The CEO of Levi Strauss urged business leaders to back new gun-control measures, saying the jeans maker will provide $1 million to activists and partner with Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety to promote stricter firearm laws.
In an op-ed published by Fortune magazine, Chip Bergh argued that executives “simply cannot stand by silently” on the issue of gun control, adding that “doing nothing is no longer an option” even though taking a stance might be “unpopular with some.”
“You may wonder why a company that doesn’t manufacture or sell guns is wading into this issue, but for us, it’s simple. Americans shouldn’t have to live in fear of gun violence. It’s an issue that affects all of us—all generations and all walks of life,” Bergh wrote.
Levi Strauss created a fund to distribute $1 million in grants over the next four years, and Bergh said the company will work with Everytown for Gun Safety and Bloomberg to form a “coalition of business leaders” who support stricter gun laws.
The company has also expanded paid volunteer time to include political activism and doubled its donation match policy if employees contribute to organizations “aligned” with its fund.
Bergh, a former U.S. Army officer, said he isn’t suggesting a “repeal [of] the Second Amendment.” In his op-ed, he specifically supported background checks on all gun sales.
Some large companies have entered the debate over gun control following the Parkland high school shooting in February. Retailers such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart have limited sales of all firearms to customers over the age of 21, while Citigroup announced that it won’t do business with companies that don’t follow a set of gun restrictions drafted by the bank.
The moves have been met with some pushback. Dick’s, which also stopped selling certain gun accessories and reportedly hired lobbyists to push for gun control, partially blamed its new gun policy for a decline in comparable sales last quarter.
Bergh previously wrote an open letter on the issue in 2016, asking people not to bring firearms into Levi’s stores or offices after a customer accidently shot and injured himself.