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BlackRock Announces Firearm-Free Investment Products

The move comes amid the national upheaval over firearms and follows the firm's earlier pledge to engage with gun makers.

After signaling in February that it would begin working to offer clients investment options that exclude gun-related stocks, BlackRock has announced the creation of several products that exclude firearms from their investment strategy. 

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager at $6.3 trillion in assets, said Thursday that it will offer five new strategies for institutional investors that “exclude all producers and large retailers of civilian firearms,” according to its announcement.

The move comes amid the national upheaval over firearms that began in February after a gunman killed 17 people using an AR-15-style assault rifle at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Since then, students from that school have launched a set of national protests calling into question the role of guns in the United States. 

Their efforts appear to have trickled into the investment community. According to BlackRock’s announcement, the move to offer these strategies and products was “in response to client interest.” 

The new strategies offered for institutional investors will track broad market indexes including the Standard & Poor's 500, the Russell 1000, the Russell 2000, the Russell 3000, and MSCI World ex-USA to exclude all firearms makers. 

“The new strategies are to be offered in pooled funds available to certain institutional investors such as U.S. pension plans seeking firearm-free funds for employee retirement programs such as 401(k) plans,” according to BlackRock’s announcement.

[II Deep Dive: BlackRock Will Engage Gun Makers After School Shooting]

In addition to launching new strategies for institutional investors, BlackRock announced plans to launch two environmental, social and governance products that use screens to exclude firearms. These include a small-cap ETF tracking the MSCI USA Small Cap Extended ESG Focus Index and a fixed income ETF product that tracks a new index created by Bloomberg Barclays. 

These announcements track with BlackRock’s broader strategy announced in January by Larry Fink. That month, he sent a letter to corporations urging them to focus more on shareholder activism and environmental, social and governance criteria in investments.

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