It’s the sixth anniversary of the mass murder of children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, and I have been invited to comment on the topic of shareholder advocacy in gun manufacturing, and it’s about breaking my heart.
Even as naïve as I am, I recognize that we are in the marketplace, and that we cannot pretend, like Pontius Pilate, to wash our hands and be clean of the whole shooting match. We walk the Via Dolorosa. We live under the shadow of Golgotha, and of Sandy Hook, and of Stoneman Douglas, and of Pulse, and of Aurora, and of Chardon, and of Columbine. In life, we are in the midst of death, and there is something to be said for managing the morbidity the best we can.
But the idea of actively investing in the manufacture of guns does not sit well with me. At best, I read it as a mixed message. Gun manufacturers exist to fabricate, market, and profit from the proliferation of these weapons, of which we already have too many, circulating too freely, wreaking too much harm.
We may say that it is impossible to do any better than to invest in these weapons and try by our votes and voices, our purchased influence, to turn their fire away from our schools and offices and yoga studios. But it feels like as though we are making a dangerous deal.
This Sunday, I will be preaching about how John the Baptizer’s message of repentance was about doing the best you can to live right within a system that is all wrong, and the people were so impressed that they thought he might be the Messiah. But the gospel is more revolutionary than that. Jesus asks more of us than to make do within systems of sin and do our best to keep our hands clean.
I admit, I don’t know that much about investing. I didn’t come from a portfolio family. I think that the guidelines established by Do Not Stand Idly By and cited by Resolution B007, passed by this summer’s General Convention of the Episcopal Church, do help investors to consider and evaluate their effect on the gun industry.
But the gospel convinces me that we can do so much better than to fund the manufacture of weapons that cause chronic and devastating death in this country day by day, year in, year out.
It may seem impossible, but so is resurrection, and in the face of death, we believe it anyway.