Companies Can and Should Act to Prevent Gun Violence

Photo by Chip Vincent on Unsplash

May 5, 2021
  • Annelise Thim

    Former Associate Director, BSR

In the U.S., we have seen that it’s possible to go to work—be it at a retail store, a corporate office, a distribution center, a grocery store—on an otherwise normal day and never come home to your family.

Far too many Americans have experienced gun violence: 58 percent of American adults or someone they care for have experienced gun violence in their lifetime. On average, more than 100 Americans are killed with guns every day, and hundreds more are wounded. Even if you avoid death and injury from a workplace shooting, the trauma endures. 

Many companies may see the issue of gun violence as falling outside their sphere of responsibility and influence. However, companies have a responsibility to provide safe working environments for their employees—something they cannot reasonably guarantee given the current state of gun violence in the U.S.

At the same time, gun violence costs taxpayers, businesses, survivors, families, and communities US$280 billion per year—on top of the immeasurable emotional costs. For employers, this is US$1.4 million a day lost in productivity, revenue, and costs associated with gun violence.

Companies have a responsibility to provide safe working environments for their employees—something they cannot reasonably guarantee given the current state of gun violence in the U.S.

Companies are already taking public stands on and working to address other issues intricately linked to gun violence, such as mental health—nearly two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides—and domestic violence—on average every month, 53 American women are shot to death by an intimate partner, and many more are shot and wounded. These issues have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, making business action on the issues and gun violence all the more relevant.

Companies can and should work to protect their employees and the communities they operate in from gun violence by:

Understanding how your business impacts gun violence. Firearm manufacturers and retailers aren’t the only ones that should act to prevent gun violence. Companies from across industries should understand how their business may have an impact. This can range from directly manufacturing or selling firearms, investments in or business relationships with firearms manufacturers, operating restaurants and retail locations where firearms can be carried or where employees are at a greater risk of gun violence, or media and advertising practices that might promote gun violence, among others. All companies, no matter the size or sector, can impact gun safety and help to prevent gun violence in the U.S.

Raising awareness with your employees and consumers on the impacts of gun violence. National Gun Violence Prevention Day takes place on June 4 this year and is an opportune time to increase awareness among staff, consumers, business partners, and communities. In addition, companies can provide support to employees and their families who are victims of gun violence through mental health benefits. Business can also offer educational and volunteer opportunities for employees with local gun violence prevention partners.

Advocating for common-sense gun safety legislation, which has broad support from Americans across the political spectrum, at the state and national levels. Companies can use their influence to make an impact on policy through direct relationships and conversations with legislators on this issue. Businesses can also ensure their financial support is going to politicians who support legislation that will make their employees and their families safer. This includes assessing their company’s involvement in industry groups that publicly or financially support policymakers who advocate against gun safety policies.

Gun violence may seem like a problem without a solution. But it’s not.

Research from Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest U.S. gun violence prevention network, has shown how simple policy changes such as strengthening our background check laws can save lives and protect families and communities. While these changes may seem politically divisive, 92 percent of Americans support background checks for gun sales.

The U.S. Senate is poised to address gun safety in the coming weeks, with expected action on background checks, and now is the time to take action. Corporate America’s support is critical on this issue. If you are interested in learning about how your company can support this effort or work to prevent gun violence more broadly, please join the upcoming webinar on January 19, 2022, from 11:00 am - 12:00 pm EST. Feel free to connect with our team to learn more as well.

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