Teachers mourning the loss of their students at the Florida school where a gunman killed 17 people last week might not take comfort in the fact that their pensions invest in the company which manufactures the AR-15.
A state pension plan for Florida teachers held 41,129 shares in American Outdoor Brands Co. valued at more than a half-million dollars, according to a Dec. 31 securities filing listing the plan’s holdings. Formerly known as Smith & Wesson, Springfield, Massachusetts-based American Outdoors manufactured the semiautomatic AR-15 assault rifle that was used in the Feb. 14 attack on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Further, the Florida Retirement System Pension Plan also invests in gun companies Sturm & Ruger Co., Vista Outdoor Inc. and Olin Corp.
The fund had a $528,000 holding in American Outdoor Brands, which included $306,000 in unrealized profit as of Dec. 31, according to the quarterly filing, making it a long-term investor in the company. (The investment is a small fraction of the fund’s $154 billion portfolio.)
In response to questions on the issue, the Florida State Board of Administration replied:
“As fiduciaries, the SBA must act solely in the interest of the participants and beneficiaries,” John Kuczwanski, a spokesman for the agency, said in an emailed statement. “As primarily passive investors, we essentially own the entire market subject to any legal limitations.”
Following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, CalSTRS and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System sold their stakes in Sturm Ruger and Smith & Wesson.
It remains unclear if the Florida SBA will take similar action.