“Do Not Stand Idly By” Campaign Inspired Me to Add Gun Control Activist Investing to My Equities Lecture

Reverend Perry of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church opening Governor Murphy’s press conference announcing the commitment to the “Do Not Stand Idly By” campaign.

Today I attended a press conference with New Jersey Together where Governor Murphy signed on with the Metro IAF Do Not Stand Idly By campaign (note: NJ Together is an affiliate of Metro IAF). I was there with others from St. Aedan’s: the Saint Peter’s University Church to support NJ Together’s involvement in the event.

The idea of the campaign is to bring gun manufacturers to the table on the issue of illegal gun violence, which plagues cities like Jersey City on a daily basis. Attorney General Grewal explained that many guns seized in places like Jersey City were being used illegally, but were purchased legally in other states, and transported here for illicit use.

I got back to my desk at Saint Peter’s University and decided to add ‘gun control’ to my Principles of Accounting “investments” lecture this week — focusing on Sister Judy Byron, a Catholic nun and activist shareholder (along with other advocates) in DICK’S Sporting Goods, Sturm Ruger, and American Outdoor Brands which owns Smith & Wesson.

Socially responsible investing and activist shareholders are interesting lenses into stocks/equities…so I figured this would be a good dialog & inflection point for the accounting topic. It’s imperative the students learn basics like journal entries, but helping them tie it back to the larger “why” and “how” helps empower accounting as a skill & tool in business.

So as I was prepping my new lecture notes I took a look at the gun manufacturers’ stock price history (shareholder gain being a key concept we’re learning about), and my curiosity was piqued by the huge gains I saw for Sturm Ruger over the past 10 years:

Both Sturm Ruger & Smith & Wesson’s parent company have seen their stock prices grow appreciably since the 2008 timeframe; in fact you could’ve made a good amount of money if you’d invested in the 2007 timeframe!  I was curious what caused the sudden uptick in stock price.

Then I recalled a family member who is a law enforcement officer (& responsible private sector gun owner) sharing with me that gun sales tend to increase with any perceived action on gun control.

Then it hit me: in 2008, Barack Obama was elected president, and that represented potential political change / impact to the private sector gun industry.

So I searched for “Sturm Ruger stock price after Obama elected” and found these articles:

I know very little about guns so don’t opine on them but I am grateful that Gov Murphy & NJ Together are working on the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign. Because it seems like we need a sensible way forward that brings all parties to the table to figure out solutions to real violence plaguing not just schools that are inflicted with horrific shootings, but the streets of JC every day in a drumbeat of violence that often isn’t as reported as the larger incidents.

The Do Not Stand Idly By campaign is an excellent example of community organizing at its core, in the sense of bringing parties with power to the table to talk, and consensus build. The gun industry is a behemoth of power so any campaign to reduce their power through legislation or lowering of potential profits (through restriction of sales) is a big challenge.

What I really like about the campaign is the advocacy to inform using data (NJ will be releasing more data as part of this campaign, as New Jersey Together explained in its post earlier today). The more the public can be informed, the more we can each advocate for our points of view, in community, based on a shared set of facts. Consensus-building requires shared facts to anchor around.

Here are some links if you want to learn more about this issue: