Following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, which killed 14 and wounded 21 people, Public Advocate Letitia James took immediate action against TD Bank, N.A. and TD Securities USA, financiers of Smith & Wesson, which manufactured the firearms used in the massacre.
In a letter to the financial institutions, she demanded TD Bank terminate their backing of Smith & Wesson. Public Advocate James cited $280 million in loans that TD Bank has facilitated for Smith & Wesson. She also pointed to millions of dollars in New York City contracts invested in TD Bank, which could come into question, given this revelation.
“Guns are ripping our country apart, one shooting at a time,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “As we stare at the financial smoking gun that enables gun violence, inaction is not an option. If you want to do business with New York City, you can’t be in bed with companies that manufacture the agents that kill our children and families.”
Public Advocate James’ letter states, “the decision to continue to transact business with the gun industry raises potential concerns regarding the risk analysis and decision making processes employed by your firm. In deciding which financial institutions it continues to transact business with, or to which it awards future contracts, the City should take those concerns into account.”
Public Advocate James’ letter, sent to TD Bank’s President & CEO Mike Pederson, TD Bank’s Chairman of the Board Bharat Masrani, and TD Securities’ Chairman, CEO, and President Bob Dorrance, made five specific demands:
Public Advocate James urged all financial institutions to stop bankrolling gun sellers. Her office will continue to examine other sources of financial support for gun industry.
Law enforcement sources have reported that the shooters in the San Bernardino, California massacre used two Smith & Wesson firearms: a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 .223-caliber assault rifle and a Smith & Wesson handgun. Smith & Wesson is one of the largest weapons manufacturers in the world, and last year reported over $600 million in gun sales.
Public Advocate James has been a leader in the fight to end the financing of gun violence. A trustee of the New York City Employee Retirement System (NYCERS), she called on all five of the New York City’s pension boards to divest from gun retailers on July 1, 2015. On July 28th, the largest pension board, NYCERS, overwhelmingly passing Public Advocate James’ resolution to begin the divestment process.