David Hogg calls for boycott of Vanguard, Blackrock over gun industry ties

Activists hope to apply pressure to investment firms who support gunmakers

David Hogg addresses the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018, in Washington, D.C.
David Hogg addresses the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

PARKLAND, Fla. – Parkland student activist David Hogg is urging people to boycott two major investment firms -- Vanguard Group and Blackrock -- over their ties to weapons manufacturers.

"Blackrock and Vanguard Group are two of the biggest investors in gun manufacturers; if you use them, feel free to let them know. Thanks," Hogg wrote on Twitter this week.

On Thursday, Hogg also suggested contacting employers that use Blackrock and Vanguard for their 401(k) retirement accounts to broaden the boycott.

Blackrock and Vanguard Group own large percentages of weaponsmakers, Sturm, Ruger & Co. and American Outdoor Brands.

While the companies did not directly address Hogg's proposed boycott, Vanguard said it offers customers funds that do not include gun makers. Blackrock said it plans to do so.

Hogg and other students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have become outspoken advocates for more regulations on weapons since a mass shooting at their school on Feb. 14 left 17 people dead. The students have lobbied lawmakers to change gun laws through high-profile protests and dozens of town halls with legislators. 

While Republicans in Congress have rejected calls for more federal regulations on guns, the students and other gun control activists have found success lobbying corporate America to distance itself from the National Rifle Association and weapons manufacturers.

Major retailers such as Dick's Sporting Goods have stopped selling semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 used in the Parkland shooting. Dick's announced this week that it would have its existing inventory of the guns destroyed rather than sell them back to gunmakers. 

Walmart recently raised the age from 18 to 21 to buy a semi-automatic rifle.

Meanwhile, Bank of America has said it would stop lending money to gun manufacturers that make military-inspired firearms for civilians. Citigroup announced last month that it will require its clients to refrain from selling guns people younger than 21 and to those who have not passed a background check.

In the past, gun control activists have tried to apply pressure to gun manufacturers via their investors  with mixed results. 

In 2013, New York City's teacher pension fund sold its stocks of publicly traded firearms manufacturers after 27 people were killed in a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. However, many major public pension plans still include investments in gunmakers, including the Florida Retirement System Pension Plans, which includes the state's teachers.

Hogg, who has more than 700,000 followers on Twitter, recently spearheaded a successful boycott advertiser boycott of Laura Ingraham after the Fox News show host mocked Hogg on social media. Dozens of advertiser pulled out of the show despite Ingraham making a public apology. Fox News said it stands by Ingraham.