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Calif. retirement system to review holdings after Las Vegas shooting

In the wake of the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System announced Wednesday it will consider divesting its holdings in sellers of military-style assault weapons, ammunition, bump stocks and other such items banned in the state.

CalSTRS investment committee chairman Harry Keiley directed staff to research how to withhold the retirement system’s $213 billion in investable assets from investment in both wholesale and retail weapons sellers.

“Gun violence in America is a social ill,” Keiley said. “We cannot divest our way out of this problem. At the same time, I don’t think we should sit by idly and think there’s nothing we can or should do.”

California Treasurer John Chiang made the request for divestment in a news conference Wednesday, pointing out that 35 Californians — including three teachers — were killed in the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas.

“This issue is of enduring importance to me,” Chiang said. “It would be recklessly inconsistent for anyone who supports California’s assault weapons ban to believe that investing in companies making or selling these weapons or ancillary devices ensures teachers’ retirement security.”

Such action would not be unheard of for CalSTRS.

In 2013, the organization divested from companies that manufacture guns and ammunition illegal for sale or possession in California after a gunman killed 20 students and six adults in Connecticut.

Representatives from the League of Women Voters of California and Physicians for Social Responsibility spoke during the meeting to support divestment. The brother of Jennifer Irvine, a San Diego attorney killed in the Las Vegas attack, also voiced his support.

“Take my pain and multiply it by another 57 families … then add the more than 500 injured … all this carnage death and destruction was accomplished by one person…” Jason Irvine said.

“If Congress won’t act then we the people have to.”

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861.

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