The Cycle | January 31, 2013
>>> we're back with breaking news out of atlanta. a 14-year-old student is shot at price middle school on the south side of the city. the child is breathing and treated at a local hospital. a teacher is injured, possibly trampled in the confusion. police have a suspect in custody. clearly many unanswered questions in the early investigation but a recent in a rash of school shootings that are all putting pressure on congress to act. and a new tactic adding to that pressure, economic shaming. former investment banker and current chicago mayor emanuel is leading advocates to pressure banks to divest from gun manufacturers, persuaded a $5 million pension fund in chicago to divest and now california's fund for teachers frozen or divested investments in gun makers. philadelphia mayor nutter compares the strategy to the one used to pressure company that is did business with the apartheid government of south africa . our next guest shining a light on the dirty dozen , 12 big corporate investors that back the gun industry. please welcome current public advocate for city of new york , bill deblazio. how are you?
>> great. thank you.
>> economic accountable. we know that after one of the mass shootings, the nra comes out saying, oh, now they'll come and take away your guns and the industry profits from that and teachers and other that is profit from being invested in those companies say, hey, maybe this is like blood money . maybe we should not be part of those companies. so is this a divestment strategy that's a morality play or can you have an impact on the gun industry by doing this?
>> i'm sure we can have an impact. this industry is rot on the the core. essentially making it easier for people to get the hands on the weapons even if they're used in massacres or shootings like we heard about in atlanta. business as usual is not acceptable. and we change things in part through the legislative group and has an impact where the money is. public pension fund money or shaming these big investment houses in to getting out of the guns and ammunition business. here in new york city , the dirty dozen , 12 big firms between them over 1.6 million in investments in guns and ammunition. we want to get the money out of the industry. by the way, the industry funds the nra . if the nra has a chokehold on the american political atmosphere, they have the money to do it.
>> bill, help me understand a little bit more. i appreciate the end goal that you have in mind here of increased gun control and security, but are gun manufacturers really the place to go after? aren't they just sort of responding to the existing market incentives and the legal structure that exists? i mean, what ultimately are you hoping that they would do differently?
>> i want them to stop selling, to begin with, military grade weapons and ammunition on the market. the vast majority of the cases these were legally purchased weapons. this is what we have to look in the face. the massacres horrify us, especially newtown losing 20 children. it is not like the guns gotten from criminal enterprises. they were readily available on the civilian market. we should not have that kind of weapon available to any civilian is the bottom line. i hope there will be an assault weapons ban passed in washington. we don't know if that will happen. state and local level, we have a massive tool to use which is the purchasing power , the pension power and the power to shame the companies in to changing their ways and, again, changing the economics of the nra in the process.
>> bill, let's talk about tom denapoli who oversees the new york retirement investments. he recently announced that he will no longer buy stock in the gun manufacturers of ruger and smith & wesson , only two that are publicly traded but isn't it his job to maximize fund returns for his investors, not to use the retirement account to politically grand stand on this issue?
>> i'm on a big pension fund board here in new york city . new york city has over $125 million every year. there's good options for good return on investment and don't involve bad choices for the society. the example given earlier. the anti-apartheid movement 20 years ago. the anti- tobacco movement . these profoundly changed the way both government and the private sector acted. so we need to understand. the outrage in this country over guns, particularly after newtown, the highest point we have ever seen if we're going to change anything, the tool of public pension funds , the tool of going after the big investment houses is valid and looking at that case of tobacco industry --
>> you're saying the job of the new york state controller , he doesn't just have a fiduciary responsibly to taxpayers, he has a moral responsibility, that's part of the job ?
>> absolutely. absolutely. because you cannot have a situation where our country's in danger. our children are in danger and don't do anything about it just to rely on business as usual . that is break point. that is break point in the history of new town and going to use any tool at our disposal. i don't care if it's seen as different or radical. any tool to break this status quo.
>> well, bill, let's talk about that. see, i'm curious if you lead by example here. you are a candidate for mayor and gun control is a big issue in new york city . would you pledge right now that you will not take any campaign money from any one associated with any of the dirty dozen firms you are talking about or for from a hedge fund or wall street firm that any way invested?
>> i'll make a pledge with one exception. if they get out of the industry, if they clear the decks and do the right thing, then i'd be happy to work with them. that's what we're telling them to do right now. get the investments off their books now.
>> okay. so let me just -- we're clear on that going forward. a long campaign. no campaign cash from anyone associated with the firms until they show you they're out?
>> have you reviewed your own personal investments and guarantee us nothing in your portfolio is an associated with the firearms?
>> i wish i had personal investments.
>> i'm a public servant. i don't think i have that problem.
>> short review.
>> all right. steve russert grilling bill diblasio. thank you.
>> thank you.
>>> straight ahead, a senate vote on the debt ceiling in 30 minutes . what we expect to happen there and what it means for the larger budget bat until d.c. occasionale