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Over 200 CEOs demand action on gun control not just because it’s the right thing to do: They say it costs $280 billion a year for taxpayers

June 9, 2022, 6:52 PM UTC

Last month’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Tex., that killed 19 children and two adults, reignited a nationwide push for Congress to take action on gun control.

On Thursday, a coalition of business leaders representing over 200 companies joined the movement, outlining the economic impacts of gun violence, and demanding in an open letter that the Republican-controlled Senate pass gun control legislation. 

“Among the affected are our employees, our customers, and the communities we work in,” wrote the corporate executives, including Condé Nast CEO Roger Lynch, Levi Strauss & Co CEO Charles Bergh, and Philadelphia Eagles CEO Jeffrey Lurie. They cited a widely circulated statistic from the New England Journal of Medicine that shows that incidents involving firearms have now overtaken automobile accidents as the top reason for children’s deaths in the U.S.

The letter, which does not include specific policy proposals, also outlines the financial consequences of continued gun violence for both businesses and consumers. 

“On top of the human toll is a profound economic impact,” wrote the business leaders. “At a time when our economy is struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, gun violence costs American taxpayers, employers, and communities a staggering $280 billion per year.” That number is a reference to a 2021 report from gun advocacy nonprofit Everytown.

Gun violence costs employers $1.4 million daily in productivity and revenue, according to the business leaders, again referencing Everytown’s report. They also wrote that communities that suffer most from gun violence face additional economic challenges when trying to attract investment opportunities and create jobs. 

“All of this points to a clear need for action: the Senate must take urgent action to pass bold gun safety legislation as soon as possible in order to avoid more death and injury,” wrote the executives. 

The same day, the Protecting Our Kids Act, a package of eight bills aimed to reform and expand existing gun control, passed the Democrat-controlled House. The legislation would raise the minimum age to buy a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21 and ban large capacity magazines if passed. It would also establish additional federal criminal offenses for gun trafficking and impose new regulations on guns without serial numbers and firearm storage on residential properties. The legislation also takes aim at a loophole in existing gun laws that allows semiautomatic weapons to be modified so that they function as machine guns. 

With Republican lawmakers holding fast to existing gun laws and citing the Second Amendment as proof against the legality of firearm reform, there is almost no chance the legislation will pass the Senate. 

Thursday’s letter is not the first time that high-profile business leaders have called on Congress to take action on gun reform. In 2019, a smaller coalition representing approximately 150 companies urged the Senate to pass gun control legislation. That letter, which followed shootings in El Paso, Tex., and Dayton, Ohio, called for specific policy actions including the institution of universal background checks and a robust federal red flag law. 

Thursday’s letter comes at a time when companies are being pushed more by consumers to take action on social issues. Earlier this year, Disney entered into battle with the state of Florida after consumers and employees urged the company to come out publicly against the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. Similarly, major corporations across the U.S. have made public statements or announced benefit expansions following a leaked draft Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Over the past decade, many companies have publicly cut ties with major gun lobbying groups including the National Rifle Association (NRA), especially following mass shooting events like Sandy Hook in 2012 and Parkland in 2018. Best Western, United Airlines, FedEx, and Dick’s Sporting Goods have all variously separated from NRA partnerships or become gun control advocates, among others.

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