Companies are taking action on gun control because politicians won't: CNBC survey

  • Companies have a responsibility to take action to mitigate gun violence, according to half of the North American members of the CNBC Global CFO Council.
  • More than half of major companies are taking action on gun control now because the government won't.
  • The CNBC Global CFO Council represents some of the largest public and private companies in the world, collectively managing more than $4.5 trillion in market capitalization

Last month's tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the activism it inspired, have forced large public companies into the debate over how to mitigate gun violence. More than half of major companies taking part in a CNBC quarterly survey say they need to take up the gun-control challenge.

Half of North America-based members of the CNBC Global CFO Council agree that companies like theirs have a responsibility, where possible, to take action to mitigate gun violence, according to the CNBC Global CFO Council survey. And more than half (54.5 percent) said companies are taking action now because the government won't.

The CNBC Global CFO Council represents some of the largest public and private companies in the world, collectively managing more than $4 trillion in market capitalization across a wide variety of sectors.

Companies, including Hertz, Delta Airlines and MetLife, ended relationships with the National Rifle Association last month after facing pressure on social media. Dick's Sporting Goods made headlines when it announced it was ending sales of all assault-style rifles in its stores.

On Thursday, Citigroup became the first major Wall Street bank to implement a gun-control policy since the Parkland shooting, saying it will not do business or offer banking services such as credit cards and capital raises to companies that sell guns to customers less than 21 years of age, or to those who do not pass a background check. Citigroup's policy also bars businesses that sell bump stocks and high-capacity magazines. Major asset managers, such as BlackRock, the world's largest investment company and a major holder of gun stocks, have said they are engaging gun companies in a dialogue.

Three of the 22 CFOs responding to the CNBC survey said their companies have addressed the issue by ending relationships with gun makers and/or the NRA in the aftermath of the February 14 shooting. Another five say their companies took some kind of action following previous mass shootings that remains in effect today. Two CFOs said their companies took some kind of other action in the wake of the latest school shooting.

Still, a significant portion of CFOs say their companies should stay out of the debate. Near-32 percent said their companies have made the decision to take no action in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, while 27.3 percent said they don't know what action their companies have taken.

More than a third (36.4 percent) say companies should strive to remain neutral on hot-button political issues, and 31.8 percent expressed no opinion about whether companies have a responsibility to take action.

Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat told The New York Times on Thursday that he was "an avid outdoorsman and responsible gun owner," and he knew that "some will find our policy too strict, while others will find it too lenient." A second Citigroup official told the Times that the policies are "not centered on an ideological mission to rid the world of firearms."

Citigroup is not a member of the CNBC Global CFO Council.

Complete survey results below:

(Note: Thirty-eight of the 105 current members of the CNBC Global CFO Council responded to this quarter's survey, including 22 North America-based members who were asked questions about the companies' positions on gun violence and gun rights. The survey was conducted from March 9–20, 2018.)