Nevada to divest public funds from gun manufacturers after Texas shooting

An officer walks outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. ...

Nevada will begin to divest all public funds from companies that manufacture or sell assault weapons, state treasurer Zach Conine announced Thursday.

The announcement comes as a direct response to the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which killed 19 students and two adults last week.

“We have a moral obligation not just to offer thoughts and prayers, but to act,” Conine said in a video statement. “And we have a financial obligation to rid ourselves of investments that carry this much risk.”

The treasurer’s office handles nearly $50 billion in public investments, $89 million of which the office plans to divest because of this policy shift. Conine announced that no positions will be sold at a loss, and that any unprofitable positions will be held until they expire but not be re-purchased.

Investment in assault weapons manufacturers and retailers carries too high of a financial and moral risk, Conine said.

“An investment is a plan for the future, an agreement to give up a little bit of opportunity now for a little bit more opportunity down the road,” he said. “What opportunities exist for the victims of gun violence? What opportunities exist for the parents and grandparents dealing with unimaginable loss? What future plans were snuffed out as innocent children and teachers were slaughtered in a classroom by a weapon that belongs on a battlefield?”

Conine in Nevada is following the treasurers of Connecticut and Rhode Island, which divested their states’ public funds from gun manufacturers in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Many state and local pension funds nationwide have done the same.

The new policy will directly impact four of the five funds managed by the treasurer’s office. It will be implemented for the $530 million permanent school fund immediately, and then for the state’s $7.2 billion general portfolio, the $2.4 billion local government investment pool and the $400 million Nevada Higher Education Prepaid Tuition Trust after approval by the state Board of Finance. The treasurer’s office will also encourage the trustees who oversee the state’s $39 billion college savings plans to implement the policy as well.

The plan will be presented for formal adoption to the state Board of Finance and the Board of Trustees of the College Savings Plans of Nevada later this month.

Conine, a Democrat elected in 2018, is running for re-election this November. Among his potential Republican opponents is Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore, who opposes gun control measures and ran a viral television add firing a handgun in the Nevada desert during a short-lived campaign for governor before she switched to the treasurer’s race.

NRobertson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @NickRobertsonSU.