The Sisters of Mercy have been praised across the country for their influential role in placing restrictions on the sale of firearms in commercial stores. Mercy Investment Services, a branch of the Sisters involved in corporate responsibility, has been directly linked to the recent change of policy in Dick’s Sporting Goods stores with regard to gun sales.
On Feb. 28, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that it would stop selling all assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines. Furthermore, customers will now have to be 21 years of age to purchase any gun, even if local laws differ. Following suit, Walmart has raised its minimum age to 21 and will no longer sell items resembling assault rifles, including toys.
The role played by the Sisters of Mercy was extensive. The Mercy Investment Services is a group responsible for the asset management program, and the endowment and operation of Mercy funds. In line with their critical concern for nonviolence, the Sisters work for systemic change within corporations, seeking to invest sustainably and socially.
This mission-based investment program had a nationwide effect following the Sisters’ filing of a resolution to the board of Dick’s Sporting Goods, requesting that they act upon the elements of the Sandy Hook Principles. This was a call to action for all American corporations to promote community safety and wellbeing.
One month after the discussions and dialogue, Dick’s made an announcement that it would play a positive role in preventing gun violence. Dick’s has cited the role of concerned investors as critical to its decision, including the arguments put forward by the Mercy Investment Services.
Sister Natalie Rossi, part-time Campus Minister, praised the role of women working for systemic change through social investment.
“The Sisters try to find investments where investors can work easily in line with Mercy vision,” said Rossi. “However, equally importantly, they sit on boards where they may disagree strongly with decisions and unsustainable firm practices. When they are involved with corporations that may conflict with the five critical concerns, they have a voice in helping to change things from the inside.”
The move comes at a time of debate about U.S. gun policy, following the shooting that killed 17 students in Parkland, Florida.