Levi Strauss jumped with both feet into the gun control debate in an announcement by CEO Chip Bergh Tuesday.
In a Fortune editorial, Bergh said Levi Strauss & Co. is partnering with Everytown for Gun Safety to form Everytown Business Leaders for Gun Safety. In addition, Levi Strauss plans to donate more than $1 million to gun control groups over the next four years.
The Levi Strauss Statement
“We can’t take on every issue,” wrote Bergh. “But as business leaders with power in the public and political arenas, we simply cannot stand by silently when it comes to the issues that threaten the very fabric of the communities where we live and work. While taking a stand can be unpopular with some, doing nothing is no longer an option.”
In the column, Bergh admits that it is unusual for a company that has nothing to do with firearms to wade into the gun debate. However, he uses claims by Everytown, which has a history of misleading facts, about gun violence to make a case for universal background checks for all firearm sales. He also claims he is not against the Second Amendment.
“I’m not here to suggest we repeal the Second Amendment or to suggest that gun owners aren’t responsible … But we can take common-sense, measurable steps—like criminal background checks on all gun sales—that will save lives.”
In a statement, Levi Strauss announced that the funds will go to Live Free, Giffords and Everytown.
Other Companies Like Levi Strauss
In the past year, other companies have also waded into the gun debate, with the Dick’s Sporting Goods making the biggest splash. Dick’s change in gun policies caused an uproar, which caused manufacturers to cut ties and possibly affected its bottom line.
Delta, Enterprise, MetLife and many others have cut ties with the National Rifle Association, eliminating discounts available to members. Buffalo Wild Wings has been especially anti-gun. The company bans firearms in its restaurants, even going as far as refusing to serve plain clothes officers in Virginia, though the company claims it was a misunderstanding.
As the gun debate gets hotter, more people, and companies, are choosing sides. Some of the arguments might be considered valid, but some have taken it to extremes. Only time will tell if this decision affect the company, but gun owners are upset with the announcement.
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