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More than 200 CEOs demand gun control in letter to Senate

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More than 220 CEOs of large U.S. companies will release a letter on Thursday calling for the U.S. Senate to pass new gun control legislation.

The letter, first reported by Axios, is spearheaded by Chip Bergh, the CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., who partnered with Everytown for Gun Safety in 2018 to lobby for tighter restrictions on gun ownership. It refers to gun violence in the U.S. as an "epidemic" and urges lawmakers to "take immediate action" in the wake of the deadly mass shootings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were massacred, and at a grocery supermarket in Buffalo, New York, where 10 people were murdered last month.

"Taken together, the gun violence epidemic represents a public health crisis that continues to devastate communities — especially Black and Brown communities — and harm our national economy. All of this points to a clear need for action: the Senate must take urgent action to pass bold gun safety legislation as soon as possible in order to avoid more death and injury," the letter states.

"On top of the human toll is a profound economic impact. At a time when our economy is struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, gun violence costs American taxpayers, employers and communities a staggering $280 billion per year. Employers lose $1.4 million every day in productivity and revenue, and costs associated with victims of gun violence. Communities that experience gun violence struggle to attract investment, create jobs, and see economic growth," the CEOs write.

While the letter expresses grave concern over gun violence and demands "action" from Congress, it does not endorse specific policies, nor does it suggest actions that could have prevented either of the deadly mass shootings referred to. It does however represent the latest attempt by corporations to take a political stance that could alienate conservative Americans and those who support gun rights.

"We urge the Senate to take immediate action. Gun violence can be prevented. Our families, our communities, and our places of business are depending on you. Stand with us and the American public. Put the safety of your constituents and their children first. Transcend partisanship and work together to pass bold legislation to address gun violence in our country," the CEOs conclude.

The letter is signed by numerous CEOs of well-known national companies, including Bain Capital, Ben & Jerry's, Bloomberg LP, Bumble, Condé Nast, Credit Karma, DICK's Sporting Goods, Eventbrite, GoPro, Intuit, Lululemon, Lyft, NerdWallet, Patagonia, Unilever, Yelp, and many more smaller companies. The CEOs of sports teams including the San Francisco Giants, 49ers, and the Philadelphia Eagles signed as well.

The CEOs' demand for action comes after the House of Representatives passed an omnibus gun control bill called the "Protecting Our Kids Act" on Wednesday. The legislation would raise the legal age to purchase certain semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21 years old, implement a new ban on large-capacity magazines, tighten regulations on firearms and accessory purchases, and create new requirements for storing guns at homes where minors are present.

But these measures are not expected to pass in the Senate, where Republicans who oppose gun control can use the filibuster to block any bill that does not have the support of 60 senators. There are ongoing bipartisan negotiations in the Senate on a narrower compromise bill that would incentivize states to adopt "red flag" laws to take away firearms from people deemed to be a risk to themselves or others. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) are leading talks on other compromises to strengthen school security, fund mental health services, and strengthen laws designed to keep guns out of the hands of felons and other people legally prohibited from having them.

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