Testimony in opposition to SB 331, “Kansas firearms industry nondiscrimination act”

Written testimony by Rabbi Moti Rieber, Executive Director of Kansas Interfaith Action,
in opposition to SB 331, “Kansas firearms industry nondiscrimination act”

Senate Fed and State Committee, Jan. 28, 2016

Chairman and Members of the Committee—

My name is Rabbi Moti Rieber, Executive Director of Kansas Interfaith Action, a statewide, multi-faith organization that “puts faith into action” by educating, engaging and advocating on behalf of people of faith and the public regarding critical social, economic, and environmental justice issues. I am writing today in opposition to SB 331.

A number of religious organizations have social investment guidelines that preclude investment in weapons manufacturers. Some do this because they consider non-violence a core element of their religious faith, and some because they are concerned about the incidence of gun violence in America. For instance, the Unitarian Universalist Association precludes investment in companies that have more than 5% of their business in the manufacture of weapons. The Praxis funds, under the umbrella of the Mennonite Church USA, are subject to restrictions based on six core values, one of which is to “Build a world at peace and free from violence”:

We desire to support companies that are engaged in products and services that support life – not those designed to kill, maim or injure. Because of that, we avoid companies that focus their energy, resources and market development on weapons production and military contracting. 

Similarly, the United Methodist Church, in its “Ethical Exclusions Guidelines” for investments, includes the following language:

Investments shall not knowingly be made in any company or entity whose core business activity involves the production and/or assembly, direct sale, distribution, and/or marketing of the following products and/or services: ...
    e. antipersonnel weapons (land mines, “assault‐type” automatic and semiautomatic weapons, firearms, etc.), armaments, ammunition or weapons delivery systems provided for commercial and private [use]…

The language of SB 331 does not take into account these religiously motivated investment decisions, instead interpreting them as “discrimination” against gun manufacturers. We therefore oppose SB 331 as contrary to the religious freedom of individuals and groups with religiously motivated opposition to investment in, and other economic relationships with, the manufacturers and sellers of deadly weapons.

Thank you for your attention.

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