Beneficial State Foundation Perspectives

Our thoughts on changing the banking system for good and building the new economy

What role can banks play in stopping gun violence?

What role can banks play in stopping gun violence

From gun violence to massive raids targeting immigrants, the last several weeks have been especially hard for many of our communities.

As our country grapples with how to acknowledge the toxic drivers of these violent acts, we consider the role of finance. Finance underpins every facet of our society – likened to the pipelines laid beneath a city. Which is why when injustices are perpetrated, we see the divestment movement – taking our money out of the corporate banking system – swell. We know we have to use every tool at our disposal to fight for our and others’ rights, and to reinvent a society that works for everyone. Especially the most disenfranchised communities.

We stand in solidarity with Black and Brown communities, especially Mexican Americans and Latinx newcomers, that have been targeted by recent attacks. We recognize that our mission to change the banking system for good must center racial equity and justice. We will continue to advocate for public policies that serve low-income communities and communities of color.

Although gun control is a hotly debated issue (for many reasons including the racist history of gun control laws in the United States designed to prevent Black communities from defending themselves against racist attacks, as well as a corporate-backed powerful gun lobby), we see that banks and corporations continue to find it in their best interest to finance weapons manufacturers. Research shows areas previously marked “red” under the practice of redlining more than 80 years ago are now strongly correlated with the neighborhoods that experience “a high concentration of gun violence,” demonstrating how pervasive the devastating impacts of redlining – banks denying home loans to people of color and other minorities – have been, and continue to be. A recent review of 31 million mortgage files revealed persistent and deep racial discrimination as late as 2016 through 2018.

It’s time to stop the violence. Financial institutions and businesses must take a stand immediately and play an active role in curtailing the financing of weapons.

We will continue to advocate for #DoNoHarm policies that push financial institutions to stop funding weapons, to stop funding the prison industry and immigration detention centers, and to stop funding extractive practices that are destroying our planet. Because all of our futures depend on it.

Emma is the Policy Advocacy and Field Building Director and Symone is the Social Media and Digital Engagement Manager for Beneficial State Foundation, both based in Oakland, CA.

This blog post reflects the authors’ personal views and opinions, and does not represent the views and opinions of Beneficial State Bank and/or Beneficial State Foundation.