The CEOs of more than 250 companies including Levi Strauss & Co., Dick’s Sporting Goods, Patagonia and Unilever have cosigned a letter urging the U.S. Senate to take immediate action to address what they called an “epidemic” of gun violence, following a series of high-profile mass shootings in recent weeks. The letter emphasized not just the human toll but also the “profound economic impact” of such disasters.
The June 9 letter from CEOs for Gun Safety, which was also signed by leaders at Bloomberg LP, Condé Nast, Lululemon Athletica, Lyft and Bain Capital, says that “the Senate must take urgent action to pass bold gun safety legislation as soon as possible in order to avoid more death and injury.” The news was first reported by Axios.
The letter cited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics showing that more than 110 people are shot and killed in the U.S. each day, while more than 200 are shot and wounded, on average. “Among the affected are our employees, our customers, and the communities we work in,” the letter noted. “Each death means another empty chair at the dinner table, another empty seat in the church pew or the classroom, another worker missing on the assembly line.”
The letter said that gun violence costs American taxpayers, employers and communities $280 billion a year, citing a report by gun control advocacy group Everytown. “Employers lose $1.4 million every day in productivity and revenue, and costs associated with victims of gun violence. Communities that experience gun violence struggle to attract investment, create jobs, and see economic growth.” It urged lawmakers to put aside partisan differences to pass “bold gun safety legislation” but stopped short of suggesting what such laws should entail.
The letter noted the recent killings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and the Tops market in Buffalo, as well as 14 additional mass shootings that took place during the 10-day period between those two high-profile incidents. “These shootings have destroyed families and communities, shaken our country and highlighted the lack of action from the US Senate,” the letter said.
Business leaders previously stepped into the debate over gun control in 2019 when a similar version of the letter was signed by the CEOs of 145 companies following shootings in El Paso and West Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Although there were fewer signatories on that list, there were some more well-known names compared to this year, including Reddit chief executive Steve Huffman, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, Twitter co-founder and then-CEO Jack Dorsey, Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi and The Gap’s Art Peck. One high-profile repeat signatory was Arianna Huffington, CEO of Thrive Global and co-founder of the Huffington Post.
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The expanded size of the group this time around shows increased willingness by CEOs to wade into politically contentious issues. Many companies made statements in support of social justice and pledged millions of dollars toward such efforts following the 2020 killing of George Floyd by police. A June 2021 poll found that 80% of American workers think their employers should be taking action to address racial justice and equity, although less than half of them were aware of whether their companies had issued a statement or taken any further action.
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