“As leaders of some of America’s most respected companies and those with significant business interests in the United States, we are writing to you because we have a responsibility and obligation to stand up for the safety of our employees, customers and all Americans in the communities we serve across the country,” says a letter dated Thursday and signed by CEOs from 145 companies. “Doing nothing about America’s gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety.”
The letter, first obtained by the New York Times, calls on senators to take up gun legislation already passed by the House, including measures that would expand background checks and strengthen “red flag” laws that allow court orders taking guns from people deemed a risk to themselves or others.
“Gun violence in America is not inevitable; it’s preventable,” the corporate leaders wrote, calling it “a public health crisis that demands urgent action.”
President Donald Trump has flip-flopped repeatedly on whether he’d support gun control measures, and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he won’t bring legislation to a vote without the president’s backing.
Gun violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety, which has pushed corporate leaders to take action, called the letter “a sea change in American culture.”
“This diverse coalition of leading companies knows what consumers want and, for the first time, is using its combined clout and knowledge to push for common-sense gun safety legislation,” Everytown president John Feinblatt said in a statement. “This unified corporate action represents a sea change in American culture. The experts on America’s consumers are speaking, and our elected officials should listen.”
As mass shootings in the U.S. continue at an alarming pace, major corporations have become more active in addressing gun violence.
Last week, after an August gun massacre at one of its stores in El Paso, Texas, Walmart announced it would stop selling handgun ammunition, as well as handguns in Alaska, the only state where it continued to sell them. The company also said it would ask customers in open-carry states not to openly carry guns in its stores. CVS, Kroger and Walgreens followed with similar requests.
Last year, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that it would stop selling assault-style rifles in its stores, in response to the gun massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Walmart similarly removed assault-style rifles from its stores in 2015.
But many corporate leaders have expressed reluctance. The heads of a number of companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Citigroup and Bank of America, did not sign, even though some leaders have privately expressed support for gun reforms.