Some pension fund managers may think about little else besides the bottom line when they consider investments and divestments but the administrators making decisions for New York City teachers' retirement accounts has stepped away from purely financial considerations.  In the wake of the shocking school shooting that took place in Newtown, Connecticut, the pension fund's managers have voted to sell off holdings in five separate firearm companies. 

The move is significant because the fund is the largest thus far to remove gun holdings from its portfolio.  The divestment was announced late last week by John C Liu, the city comptroller, who released a statement explaining the rationale for the divestment:

“Our investment portfolio gains nothing by doing business with these firms, and this is a sound decision that sends an important message about our commitment to addressing the plague of gun violence in every possible way." 

The pension fund scheme for New York City educators currently possesses more than £23 billion in its portfolio.  Divestments related to the five gun companies will total some £7 million.  While this is certainly a significant sum, critics have observed that the fund currently holds more than £20 million in the discount chain Walmart, which also deal in gun sales.  The fund has indicated no interest at this point in divesting itself from Walmart.

The gun company divestment vote was not unanimous but was instead a four to one decision.  Raymond Sarola voted against it, commenting: “Pension decisions should rarely, if ever, be based on other criteria except what’s best for pensioners, which should benefit taxpayers as well." 

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