BlackRock to remove Walmart from some funds over guns

BlackRock said a number of new funds will screen for major gun retailers as well as gun manufacturers

New York (AFP) – BlackRock will remove Walmart and other large retailers that sell guns from some investment vehicles in response to rising demand from socially minded clients, the giant asset manager announced Thursday.

BlackRock said a number of new funds will screen for major gun retailers as well as gun manufacturers. The company also plans to apply the policy to several existing equity and bond exchange trade funds.

The aim is “offering our clients more choice of products that exclude firearms manufacturers and/or retailers,” BlackRock said.

The announcement is the latest in the wake of public clamor for action on guns following a February 14 school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead.

A BlackRock spokesman confirmed that the restrictions will pertain to Walmart, along with Dick’s Sporting Goods and Kroger, among others. All three retailers have barred gun sales to customers under 21 in the wake of the Florida shooting, although they continue to sell firearms.

The funds are among BlackRock’s environmental, social and governance offerings, a tiny portion of its overall $6.3 trillion in assets under management.

The funds will also bar gun makers American Outdoor Brands, Sturm Ruger & Company and Vista Outdoor. BlackRock is a major shareholder in all three companies.

BlackRock said the new policies were in keeping with a plan announced last month in which it pledged to meet the needs of clients who do not want to invest in firearms.

“As it has for many people, the recent tragedy in Florida has driven home for BlackRock the terrible toll from gun violence in America,” the firm said on March 2. 

“We believe that this event requires response and action from a wide range of entities across both the public and private sectors.”