American Outdoor Brands, the parent company of U.S. gun-maker Smith & Wesson, lost its bid to block a proposal from a group of nuns and religious educators to increase efforts to promote gun safety.
At its shareholder meeting this week, investors sided with the resolution put forth by the Ontario-based Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in the wake of multiple high-profile mass shootings.
The plan will require American Outdoor Brands (AOBC) to put together a report regarding its efforts to both monitor gun violence associated with its products and to look into safer gun products.
The religious group got majority support – nearly 70 percent shareholder approval – to pass the same proposal at Sturm Ruger earlier this year, which garnered backing from shareholders BlackRock and Vanguard.
It was not immediately made public what percentage of American Outdoor Brands' shareholders supported the initiative. BlackRock and Vanguard are also large shareholders in American Outdoor Brands.
In a statement, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, which represents the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary and hundreds of other religious groups, said the majority of crimes in major U.S. cities involve American Outdoor Brands' firearms – including the mass shootings in Parkland, Florida, San Bernardino, California, and Aurora, Colorado – a fact that could seriously damage the company’s brand reputation.
“While gun violence is an issue of concern to everyone, the responsibility to market safe guns to the public appropriately lies with gun manufacturers and distributors,” Colleen Scanlon of Catholic Health Initiatives said in a statement. “[The] vote shows that investors are united in their view that AOBC has a responsibility to authentically examine its business to learn what it might do to meet the demand for safer guns. Other companies without AOBC’s resources are doing so.”
American Outdoor Brands had not returned FOX Business’ request for comment at the time of publication, but CEO James Debney expressed his disappointment after the vote on Tuesday, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
In its most recent quarter, American Outdoor Brands reported net sales of more than $138 million, a nearly 8 percent increase over the same quarter in 2017. The stock is up 21 percent so far this year.