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Calif. pension fund divests gun assets

SACRAMENTO — The California Public Employees’ Retirement System board voted to divest its $5 million in shares of Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. and Sturm Ruger & Co. because the companies make weapons banned in the state.

California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, a member of the fund’s board, proposed that California’s public pensions sell the shares after the Dec. 14 killings of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The move has been mirrored by public funds across the United States.

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Calpers is the biggest US pension fund, controlling $254.5 billion in assets. The two companies are the biggest publicly traded US gunmakers.

California bans some types of firearms and ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The California State Teachers’ Retirement System decided last month to begin selling its stakes in gunmakers.

The teachers’ pension also held a stake in New York-based Cerberus Capital Management. The private-equity firm owned Freedom Group, the maker of the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle that police said was the primary weapon in the Sandy Hook attack.

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