Momentum to help find a solution to gun violence has been growing in the corporate world since the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., a movement propelled further after this summer’s shootings in El Paso and Dayton. The New York Times convened a group of 11 executives and activists to tackle the role of the corporate world in combating one of the most polarizing issues in the United States today.
After Parkland, Dick’s Sporting Goods stopped selling assault rifles, while Walmart also tightened their buying policies. And after El Paso and Dayton, 145 chief executives, including those from Levi Strauss, Twitter and Uber, wrote to the Senate urging stricter background checks and laws to prevent people who pose a threat from buying guns. But, in a roundtable discussion, gun-rights advocates clashed with gun-control advocates. Dianna Muller, a former police officer from Tulsa, Okla., now runs the DC Project, which appeals to state legislators to protect the rights of legal gun owners. “This isn’t just about background checks, this isn’t about red flag laws, this isn’t going to stop until we disarm America,” Muller said, adding that she did not trust the government to allow law-abiding owners to keep their guns. “And that’s what we are fearful of.” Anna Walker, the vice president of public affairs for Levi Strauss, disagreed that safety necessarily means anti-gun. “It’s not anti-gun organizations, it’s organizations working in communities on safety and reducing violence,” she said. In 2018, Levi Strauss committed $1 million to support such organizations. “Why don’t companies do more?” said Richard Fain, the chief executive of Royal Caribbean Cruises, based in Miami. “The discussion here is an example of why corporations don’t. The emotion that you see here is what you’re seeing played out across the country.”