Nutter's 'Sandy Hook Principles' off to shaky start

Posted: September 27, 2013

MAYOR NUTTER yesterday gave a high-profile speech about urban violence and illegal guns at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

But back home, one of the mayor's signature gun-control efforts, the "Sandy Hook Principles," appears to be struggling to gain steam.

The policy, announced in January after the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., aims to compel gun manufacturers and retailers in which the city's pension fund invests to sign off on eight safety-minded policies. If the firms declined to adopt the principles, which include endorsing a federal background-check database and re-evaluating whether to produce or sell military-style weapons, the city would divest.

The hope was that public and private funds across the country would adopt the same requirements, creating a groundswell of pressure on the companies to change their ways. But so far, no public funds in other cities are requiring them, and no company in which Philadelphia is investing has agreed to them.

The administration announced yesterday that Daicel Corp., a Japanese chemical manufacturer with an ammunition subsidiary, became the first signatory of the principles.

But the city's pension fund, the primary vehicle for promoting the policy, has no investments in Daicel, according to Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald. In an administration release, a Daicel executive said the company already follows Japan's strict firearms laws and supports gun-safety principles.

McDonald declined to make anyone who works on the policy available for an interview.

In Philly, the Pension and Retirement Board, the Sinking Fund Commission, Philadelphia Gas Works and Community College of Philadelphia have all adopted the principles. And the U.S. Conference of Mayors, of which Nutter was president until this summer, has symbolically endorsed the proposals.

But none of the affected companies in which Philly's funds have holdings came onboard. The Pension Board, which manages nearly $4 billion, has $15 million invested in gun retailers like Wal-Mart, and manufacturers like Smith & Wesson.

The board has begun divesting from those firms, a process that will take nine to 15 months, McDonald said.

Joined by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in D.C. yesterday, Nutter made an impassioned call for national attention to urban violence, especially black-on-black crime.

"Thousands of black men and boys and many other Americans die every day in our country and virtually nothing happens, no sustained comprehensive action is taken to prevent it or stop it," he said. "Illegal guns are the weapons of mass destruction on our streets."

The mayors called for increased federal aid to local law-enforcement agencies fighting urban crime.

On Twitter: @SeanWalshDN


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