When I wrote about funding for smart gun tech last month, I referenced something New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin pointed out recently: As the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock could pressure gun manufacturers to embrace reforms (more stringent background checks, for example). In fact, earlier this year, BlackRock had pledged to hold companies accountable to their social responsibilities:
Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.
In a nod to that sentiment, BlackRock is now offering funds that are free of gun manufacturers and sellers. That means BlackRock will exclude retailers like Walmart, Kroger, and Dick’s Sporting Goods from funds that screen for environmental, social, and governance factors (ESG funds); BlackRock will also provide new exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and retirement plans free of gun makers and sellers.
These funds may be a drop in the bucket for BlackRock, which manages $6.3 trillion in assets. But it’s a step in the right direction and could bode well for gun reforms and innovation—that is, if BlackRock wields its influence for good.