On Monday, Trinity submitted a proposal to be included in Cabela’s proxy materials and voted on by shareholders at the company’s upcoming annual meeting in June. The proposal asks that the Board of Directors of Cabela’s Inc., a sporting goods store, to adopt and oversee the implementation of a policy barring the private sale of firearms capable of discharging more than eight shells without reloading.
Trinity is asking shareholders to support the proposal because they can reasonably conclude that barring the sale of firearms capable of discharging more than eight shells without reloading will both help make the public safer as well as protect the company’s reputation as a family destination store. The proposal underscores Trinity’s belief that uniform board-sanctioned policies are necessary to guide management decision-making on the sale of products that could be especially dangerous to public safety, corporate reputation, and shareholder value.
“Most weapons used to commit crimes are obtained legally,” the Rev. Dr. William Lupfer said. “High capacity weapons are particularly dangerous and have been used in many mass killings including the recent horrific massacres in Charleston and San Bernardino.”
With the nation’s attention keenly focused on the gun control debate and securing the safety of the public, particularly in connection with the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons and high capacity magazines that have been used in mass killings, Trinity is seeking to engage businesses and fellow investors in a dialogue on the serious moral, ethical, and business implications of this critical public policy issue.
Following the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy in December 2013, Trinity engaged in discussions with Cabela’s, which calls itself the “World’s Foremost Outfitter.” In 2014, Cabela’s Board adopted as part of its Business Code of Conduct and Ethics constructive sales force and purchaser safety training measures, but Trinity informed Cabela’s that these helpful policies did not go far enough. Trinity later met with Cabela’s in New York and was informed that the company would be happy to include in its proxy materials any proposal Trinity might make. Following clarification of the intent of the applicable SEC rules in October 2015, Trinity made a compromise proposal to Cabela’s that called for two letters of reference vouching for the suitability of a purchaser of a high capacity weapon to own and safeguard these especially dangerous weapons. When Cabela’s rejected this proposal, Trinity decided to submit the proposal outlined above.
“Companies increasingly recognize that their commitment to community welfare is deeply interconnected with shareholder value,” said Dr. Lupfer. “Cabela’s has committed in its Business Code of Conduct and Ethics to weigh community and environmental impact in making business decisions. This proposal is intended to implement that commitment.”
Trinity is also currently engaged in constructive conversations with Wal-Mart that focus on governance issues. In August, Wal-Mart decided to cease selling high-capacity weapons.
As a responsible investor—an extension of Trinity’s pastoral mission to be an agent for constructive and important social change—the church believes that on highly consequential issues that have a direct impact on human life, corporate boards must exercise their oversight role to assure balance among customer, shareholder, and societal interests.