July 17, 2020 | News | No Comments
American denim giant Levi Strauss has teamed up with gun control groups saying it has a "moral obligation" to tackle the country’s "gun violence epidemic".
“You may wonder why a company that doesn’t manufacture or sell guns is wading into this issue, but for us, it’s simple," Chip Bergh, the company’s CEO, said as he made the announcement.
“Americans shouldn’t have to live in fear of gun violence. It’s an issue that affects all of us – all generations and all walks of life."
Levi Strauss & Co is the second company to voluntarily wade into political controversy in recent days after Nike signed Colin Kaepernick, a divisive figure in American football, to front its latest ad campaign.
Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in protest at police brutality in 2016 but critics, including President Donald Trump, say he is disrespecting the American flag.
Nike’s decision to sign Kaepernick provoked a viral online campaign to boycott the company’s merchandise, with thousands of Americans sharing images of them burning their Nike trainers.
Mr Bergh acknowledged that his company’s decision to advocate for gun control was "controversial".
But in an article for the business website Fortune, Mr Bergh said companies with public and political power "simply cannot stand by silently when it comes to the issues that threaten the very fabric of the communities where we live and work".
He added that as head of a “values-drive company… and one of the great symbols of American freedom” he had a responsibility to speak out on the issues of the day.
Mr Bergh added that he is not advocating to repeal the Second Amendment, the part of the US constitution that gives citizens the right to carry firearms, nor calling gun owners irresponsible.
But he went on: "We can’t insulate ourselves from every threat. We can’t ‘harden’ every place we gather – whether it be our schools, workplaces, shops, churches, or entertainment venues. But we can take common-sense, measurable steps – like criminal background checks on all gun sales – that will save lives."
Levi’s said it will donate more than $1 million (£775,400) over the next four years to nonprofits and youth activists that work to end gun violence as part of a “Safer Tomorrow Fund.”
It pledged to double all donations made by their employees to the fund.
The jeans manufacturer has also partnered with gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety and other executives to form Everytown Business Leaders for Gun Safety.
Mr Bergh called the group a coalition of business leaders who “believe, as we do, that business has a critical role to play in and a moral obligation to do something about the gun violence epidemic in this country.”