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Sturm Ruger will prepare gun safety report but won't change its business model


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Sturm Ruger will prepare gun safety report but won't change its business model

Firearms maker Sturm Ruger & Co. Inc. said it will honor a shareholder vote requiring the company to prepare a report on gun safety, but said it has no plans to change its business model as it faces pressure from investors, according to a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 14.

The proposal asked Sturm Ruger to report on the company's activities related to gun safety measures and mitigation of harm associated with gun products. Specifically, the proposal requested evidence that the gunmaker is monitoring incidents in which the company's own firearms are involved in violent events and requested information on any of the company's efforts to research and produce safer guns and gun products. The proposal also asked for an assessment of the company's reputational and financial risks associated with gun violence in the U.S.

Sturm Ruger will "follow through on our obligation to prepare that report," Sturm Ruger CEO and President Christopher Killoy said at the company's annual shareholder meeting May 9. The results of that meeting were published with the SEC on May 14.

"What the proposal does not and cannot do is force us to change our business, which is lawful and constitutionally protected," he said, according to a transcript of the meeting filed May 14. "What it does not do, and cannot do, is force us to adopt misguided principles created by groups who do not own guns, know nothing about our business and, frankly, would rather see us out of business."

The firearm industry has seen a wave of pressure from investors following the February school shooting in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 dead.

BlackRock Inc., which owns 17.84% of Sturm Ruger's outstanding shares according to S&P Capital IQ, said in April that it will launch two new investment vehicles designed to exclude the stocks of gunmakers and gun retailers. In the week following the Florida shooting, BlackRock also said it was willing to cast proxy votes to influence gunmakers. BlackRock did not immediately respond to S&P Global Market Intelligence's request for comment on the Sturm Ruger news.

Several large retailers, including Kroger Co., Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. and Walmart Inc. have scaled back the availability of firearms, further complicating the outlook for gunmakers. Kroger said in March that it will exit the firearms business through its Fred Meyer stores, while Dick's said it would stop selling assault-style rifles at its stores and raised the minimum age to buy any gun to 21. Walmart also raised the minimum age for any gun purchase to 21 following the Florida shooting.

On May 9, firearms maker O.F. Mossberg & Sons Inc. said it would stop selling its products to Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. after the latter hired government affairs firm Glover Park Group LLC to lobby Congress on gun control.