American Outdoor Brands Corporation, the gun company formerly known as Smith & Wesson, held its annual shareholders’ meeting Tuesday. The meeting was webcast, but in Hamden and Bridgeport, a group of unusual shareholders met up to listen. These shareholders are shaking things up.
Carol Wade is 75 years old. She goes to church, and, over the summer, bought her first share from a major gun manufacturer.
“We need to invest in this corporation in order to be able to vote and make a difference and it was very hard for me to do that," she said. "I had never thought in all the world that I would buy a share of a gun stock. If you would’ve asked me that I wouldn’t thought—oh my gosh no!"
Wade bought a single share for around $12. If you buy a share, then you’re allowed to vote.
She and other shareholders at the meeting voted for Resolution Number 4. The proposal would require the company to release a report that discloses if they’re tracking violent events that involve the guns they make, or actively researching how to produce safer guns and gun products.
The resolution passed -- and the company’s leadership wasn’t pleased.
“Proposal 4 is one that we believe was politically motivated, and which represented a debate that belonged not at our annual meeting and proxy but in the legislature,” said AOBC CEO James Debney on the webcast.
Debney is also a top donor of the NRA.
Matt McDermott is a local shareholder who voted for the proposal. As lead organizer for Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut, he’s been bringing the idea to local churches and community members.
"The two publicly traded gun companies in the United States have now had their shareholders pass calling on the company to pay more attention and take account of gun violence," he said.
McDermott said they’re not looking to put gun companies out of business, but they do want to make the gun industry do its part when it comes to safety and accountability.
AOBC has to issue its report by February 2019.