Dave Young: I’ll Divest From Gun Makers As Treasurer

Rep. Dave Young (D-Greeley).

A press release from Democratic Colorado Treasurer candidate Dave Young last week announces a policy change he’s advocating with regard to the state’s Public Employees Retirement Association funds–getting PERA out of investments in firearms manufacturers:

Today in Denver, Rep. Dave Young spoke out against the news that over $1 million of Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) investments are held in gun and ammunition companies.

Representative Dave Young said, “As State Treasurer, I will work to divest any PERA investments from the gun industry. We must stop gun violence and mass shootings. That is why I have worked to pass improve background checks, limit magazine sizes, and keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of criminals. PERA should not invest in businesses that directly or indirectly put our children’s safety at risk.”

Directly after the Columbine High School massacre, Rep. Mike Coffman pushed to increase PERA’s investments in major gun and ammunition companies like Ruger and Smith & Wesson. Current State Treasurer, Walker Stapleton, has since not commented on these investments. In 2013, Rep. Young voted to limit magazine sizes in a statewide effort led by Democrats to make our schools and streets safer.

Dave continued, “As a math teacher for 24 years, I am PERA member and know just how important PERA is. Not just to me but to thousands of Colorado teachers, firefighters, police officers, and public servants. As Treasurer, I will fight relentlessly to defend PERA.”

The firearms industry is by all accounts consistently profitable, which would make it natural choice for institutions looking for a stable and reliable investment. In recent years, the gun industry has seen demand for its products soar with a news cycle frequently punctuated by mass shooting events that stoke fear of imminent wholesale losses of gun rights–leading to panic buying with no relationship to any other economic indicator.

The problem, of course, is that all this gun money is not being made in a vacuum. And whatever factors drive the buying and selling of guns in America, the economic value of the guns themselves is no longer society’s most important consideration.

Besides there are plenty of less-lethal but still profitable investment vehicles, like casinos or booze.

12 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Davie says:

    Actually, unless a Democrat is elected President, the gun industry's current doldrums are likely to persist (thanks Trump).

    The parent company of Smith and Wesson's stock is off about 65% from it's 52-week high: https://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/aobc?mod=MW_story_quote

    and Remington is filing for bankruptcy.   So Colorado’s investment is dead money (oh, sorry, bad pun)

  2. PhatherPhoton says:

    This is a great idea!  Next Dave needs to commit to severing Colorado's relationship with Wells Fargo, which drips with gun dollars.  Of course, that is stickier business as WF donates to him and most state electeds.

    Colorado politics is drenched in blood money.


  3. davebarnes says:

    "The firearms industry is by all accounts consistently profitable" is a LIE.

  4. Diogenesdemar says:

    First of all, and please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe the PERA investment fund is under the State Treasurer’s auspices (except maybe tangentially)?

    Secondly, I think it would be a great disservice to PERA recipients and PERA participants, to make PERA into any more of a political football than it’s already become (Stapleton, Klan, Rosen, et al). The GOPnutters are already looking for every excuse they can to destroy this public pension system, do you really want to give them more incentive?

    Campaign on finding solutions to the TABOR clusterfuck, why don’t you, Dave?  Please?

  5. mamajama55 says:

    PERA (my retirement fund, btw) is heavily invested in oil and gas, as hazardous as those are to public health. Energy companies such as Anadarko, which was responsible for the Firestone explosion, and Extraction Oil and Gas, which is even now preparing to frack the soccer field at Bella Romero K-8 School, make up about 6% of PERA investments. (through the Colorado Mile High Fund, run by PERA)

    PERA  divests from anti-Israel and from pro-Iran companies, so it's already steeped in politics. Colorado teachers have said that they so far are not interested in divesting from firearm stocks.

    I'd like to see PERA invest more in renewables. Paul Rosenthal introduced legislation to that effect, but it was not enacted.  I'll vote that way when I get a chance to elect PERA board members. To answer Dio's question, the Treasurer is one of 15 people on the Board of PERA, and is an "ex-officio" member. The Treasurers historically tend to politic more with this position, having greater influence with lawmakers and public officials than the average PERA board member. 

    For modern Republican members, the position on PERA's board affords many opportunities to posture against a favorite right wing target, teacher's and public employee unions.

      The reality is that there are fiscally conservative ways to fix PERA's unfunded liabilities without impacting retirees' earned and promised benefits. It would cut COLAs from 2% to 1.25%, but hell, who cares about a bunch of old teachers not being able to keep up with inflation? We still have plenty of old paper to burn for fuel, and cat food keeps a long time.

  6. MADCO says:

    Why are is the COLA set to a fixed number?

    why can't it be he same adjustable number as Social Security, military pensions and a dozen other indexed measures?


    But good points. Please keep in mind it's not just teachers.

    • mamajama55 says:

      COLA is one of the points under negotiaton. It is of course a rate, so it will be variable. Stapleton wanted zero COLA; the 1.25 is a compromise from the 2% the PERA board wants.

      I am quite aware that there are many non-educator public employees in Colorado.

    • Diogenesdemar says:


      And, distrust.

      Remember Algernon Moncrief?  That was his big thing — most retirees in this state planned for and took retirement with the “promise” of a 3% annual increase.  Called a “COLA,”  it really wasn’t — although the number probably got fixed/set back at time when inflation was running 3% or much greater.  But, it was a contractual part of the retirement program (which hasn’t been kept).

      Then came lower inflation.  Then came Tabor.  Then came Bush.  Then came Owens (and his actuarial damage to PERA with his plan for purchasing of cheap service time because he wanted to be rid of “entrenched” (experienced) state employees — I.e.  Democrats and other not-Republicans). Then came the Bush/Masters-Of-The-Universe crash and fleecing of the middle and lower classes,

      Voila — welcome to yet another modern-day Republican-aided fiscal shitshow . . . 

      It’s fixed probably because retirees want some security, and to be able to plan their retirement, not an annual guessing game  (or a Stapleton let’s-just-freeze-‘em-to-death).  Imagine that?  And, they’re dealing with a employment partner that’s become generally unreliable, untrustworthy, and hostile to its employees — the State of Colorado (hats off again, to mostly Republican legislators and other public pension haters).

      So, to answer your question — who knows?  It’s a thing . . .

      Politicians can’t be trusted any more to administer any budget or sustain a long-term program into the future, so we get formulas (which can only ever be ratcheted down) instead.

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