Opinion | Divestment from the gun industry saves lives

Makayla Jordan, Contributing Columnist

Alabama is no stranger to gun violence; it has the fourth highest rate of gun deaths in the nation, with an average of 1,504 people shot and killed with a gun every year.

Alabama is a ticking time bomb for a shooting to happen. Shootings across the state underscore the deadly effects of the lack of laws in Alabama to promote gun safety, as our gun violence rate continues to rise. 

As we await the effects of the dangerous enactment of permitless carry on Jan. 1, we are estimated to see a 13% to 15% increase in violent crime rates and an 11% increase in handgun homicide rates.

Permitless carry will also allow people with dangerous histories — including extremists and individuals with criminal histories — to evade background check requirements and safeguards to responsible gun ownership. In order to stop the problem, we have to address the source of these dangerous issues we face in Alabama, a part of which is the gun industry. 

Publicly traded companies like Smith & Wesson and Ruger rake in $9 billion each year, while the violence crisis costs Americans an estimated $557 billion annually. Gun deaths and injuries cost Alabama $8 billion, of which $433 million is paid by taxpayers. 

Gun manufacturers insist on making their products deadlier — not safer. They produce military-style weapons and market them to civilians, including children and teens, and they refuse to take responsibility for the fact that millions of guns — their products — play a major part in America’s gun violence crisis. 

The University of Alabama has a moral responsibility to its students to stop funding the gun industry. The University’s sky-high billion dollar endowment should be used in a way that benefits their students and surrounding community. The University, as the capstone of the state, needs to set the standard that we will not allow these gun companies to continue enabling gun violence in Alabama. 

Investing in gun companies that profit off of gun sales that wreak havoc on students and communities and fuel guns being the number one killer of college students in America is not in the best interest of students on our campus. 

Because the University has not released its endowment disclosure, and likely will not, we do not know if the University has invested in gun manufacturing companies like Smith & Wesson and Ruger. 

We are not just asking the gun industry to stop making these weapons. We are holding the industry accountable, asking them to start making guns safer instead of deadlier, ensure that every gun can be safely and securely stored, and stop selling guns to bad actors. 

We are asking The University of Alabama to pledge not to invest in the gun industry. If the University already invests in the gun industry, students and concerned citizens alike must demand divestment now. 

This has no economic impact on the endowment and will show the rest of America that we will not allow the gun industry to profit off the deaths of our citizens. We know that this is an uphill battle. But we refuse to stand by and just wait for another mass shooting, or gun death to continue to impact our campus.

Tell the University to make true on their promise and ensure that our students’ futures are secured.


Makayla Jordan is the president of Students Demand Action UA.