Illinois House rejects plan to dump investments in gun makers

News-DemocratApril 18, 2013 

— The Illinois House has rejected a plan to force public pension systems to dump investments in gun manufacturers.

The bill sponsored by Chicago Democratic Rep. Christian Mitchell would not have applied to companies that make ceremonial weapons or just components.

It failed 46-69.

After the Connecticut school massacre in December, teacher pension funds in California and Chicago divested their holdings.

Opponents argued pension managers should look for the best investment return regardless of what the company produces.

They said if guns are out-of-bounds, investments should not be made in knife manufacturers or makers of baseball bats.

Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, noted that Illinois has many gun manufacturers, who employ thousands and sell weapons to police departments in Illinois.

"So you're saying we can buy guns from these manufacturers, we just can't invest in these manufacturers?" Costello asked. "My question is, where does it stop?"

Costello said the legislature's next step, depending on which party is in power, might be to prohibit investments in companies that are union or non-union.

"I think we should let investment professionals that we hire make these decisions," Costello said.

Mitchell pointed out that lawmakers have prohibited investments in companies doing business in Sudan or Iran. In the past, state law banned South African investments.

The bill is HB1296.

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