To: University of California Board of Regents and Janet Napolitano, President, University of California

University of California: Divest from Gun Makers

Campaign to Unload

Students and faculty at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) are understandably shocked by the hate-filled rampage of a local student Friday night, in which six UCSB students were killed and 13 wounded just off campus. America mourns with the families and we embrace the responsibility to work together to stop this madness. “Not one more,” as Richard Martinez, father of 20-year-old Christopher, heart-breakingly challenged us. We are up to the challenge.

To that end, we call on the University of California Board of Regents to examine whether the system’s $88 billion endowment is contributing to more senseless destruction by being invested in companies that profit from gun violence, obstruct common-sense gun legislation, and fund the NRA. University endowments led the way in divesting from apartheid South Africa and should do so again in divesting from the gun industry.

There have been 72 shootings on school campuses since the Sandy Hook massacre. We cannot afford to invest in gun companies. We are paying too high a cultural price to financially benefit from stock prices that climb even as our young people fall. The University of California, where this latest horror occurred, should stand with its community and ensure that it is not funded with the blood money from these killings. The UCSB community is grieving but there is a way to stop the madness: divest.

Why is this important?

My name is Sean Tanabe and I am a third-year student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a proud Gaucho. I write this petition with the utmost solidarity. I have witnessed firsthand the pain, sadness, and shock that has rocked our community to its core. At the Memorial service several days after the shooting, I was inspired from my seat in the stands to do something more. If you want to make tangible progress on this pressing issue, then I urge you to sign this petition.

Ending gun violence will not be easy, but I promise that if we unite on this issue as students, we will not be ignored. We are the future, and as the future it is our duty to take this issue into our own hands and work to create a society we desire to thrive in. We are far from powerless. We are not only capable of sharing a hashtag and spreading awareness on social media. We CAN cultivate real, positive change.

It feels as if our generation has become almost numb due to the normalization of these shooting attacks in the US. This is far from normal. We are affected nationwide; from Aurora to Newtown, Chicago to Tucson, Blacksburg to Isla Vista and beyond. Uniting as a generation on this issue will place the power back where it should be: in the hands of those it most strongly affects. Voting is important, but here's something you can do to have a more immediate effect.

Divestment is a new front in the war to end the epidemic of gun violence. Its focus is on the corporate elements that are profiting from readily available and barely-regulated firearms that are responsible for over 30,000 American deaths every year, including the 20 first-graders and six educators killed with a military-style assault weapon at Sandy Hook Elementary. Congress -- the “craven, irresponsible politicians,” as Richard Martinez labeled them -- has failed its constituents, 85% of whom support a bill to make every potential gun purchaser go through a background check. We must use our wallets to take a stand to this gross lack of morality.

-->Read in The Nation about the call for divestment after the UCSB shooting.

The gun industry -- led by Remington Outdoor, Sturm, Ruger & Company, and Smith & Wesson – has profited even as more Americans are killed by the products they manufacture and aggressively market. The value of these companies has grown significantly just as the rate of mass shootings has increased. (Watch this video to learn more: How can this be occurring? Gun companies are donating substantial sums of money to the NRA. With that financial clout, the NRA is able to quell attempts at enacting practical gun laws. To communicate efficiently, we must speak their (monetary) language.

Luckily, we students are not alone. Occidental College started the movement in February by becoming the first higher education institution to pledge to ban investments in companies that manufacture military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines for the general public. Universities should lead on this issue to ensure that they do not further the epidemic of gun violence by financially supporting the companies that largely allow this calamitous cycle to continue.

Note: This petition will not end gun violence overnight. But as ancient philosopher Laozi asserts, “the journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” That stair awaits you above.

Sign this petition to stand with the UCSB community and call for divestment from the gun industry. Ultimately, this change depends on us.

Thank you.

Sean Tanabe

*Note: An earlier version of this petition incorrectly identified the shooter as a UCSB student. He was a student at Santa Barbara City College.