The investment committee responsible for CalPERS holdings has taken a strong stance that may become a model for other pension funds in the United States.  The California Public Employees' Retirement System voted this week to sell off its holdings in two companies that manufacture firearms and ammunition clips, which are themselves illegal in the state.  CalPERS is the single largest pension fund system operating in the United States.

The move will mean divesting from Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation and from Sturm, Ruger & Company.  In all, CalPERS has an investment of about £2.5 million in the two firms, compared to a total asset base of more than £125 million. 

The divestment move was largely spearheaded by CalPERS board member Bill Lockyer, who is also currently serving California as its state treasurer.  Lockyer, who sits on the investment committee, admits that because the level of money involved is relatively low, the divestment will hold mostly a symbolic significance. 

Lockyer also serves on the CalSTRS board, which directs investments for the pension fund serving the retirement needs of California teachers.  CalSTRS has already voted to enact similar divestments.  Both moves were largely in response to the tragic events that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December.  The school, located in Newton, Connecticut, was stormed by an assailant armed with an assault weapon and a large amount of ammunition.  The result was the massacre of an entire classroom full of six- and seven-year-old children.  Six adults were also murdered.

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