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Everytown launches campaign demanding colleges, universities divest from gun industry

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(NEW YORK) — Students Demand Action, a grassroots network of Everytown for Gun Safety, is launching a campaign calling on colleges and universities across the country to divest from the gun industry.

Students at nearly 30 colleges and universities around the country have joined the campaign, called #KillerBusiness, and are asking their colleges and universities to cut economic ties with the gun industry until these companies take accountability for their actions. Students will be organizing on their campuses to put pressure on their institutions to reveal their investments and stop funding the gun industry, according to Everytown.

Everytown plans to increase the number of campuses involved in the campaign throughout the year.

Colleges are notoriously secretive about their investments, though some schools have debated divesting from gun manufacturers in the past.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, Boston University discussed divesting from the gun industry but ultimately trustees rejected a recommendation from an advisory committee. The debate was revived again last year, with BU saying it had no current investment in gun manufacturers and would review whether to exclude future investments, according to the student paper.

Many colleges and universities use large investment firms to manage their endowments, further clouding whether schools are invested in gun manufacturers.

Everytown’s announcement comes days after two mass shootings in California — in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay — left 18 people dead and several others wounded.

There have been 41 mass shootings this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as four or more people shot not including the gunman. Less than a month into the year, 3,130 people have died due to gun violence, including 1,782 people who died by suicide, according to the nonprofit.

Advocates have pushed for the University of California system, one of the largest in the country, to divest from guns for years. The Student Association pushed the Board of Regents to do so in a resolution in 2015, but that fight was still ongoing at least as of last year.

Some of the schools where students have signed on to the campaign include the University of Chicago, Yale University, Miami University and University of California, Davis.

Everytown accused the gun industry of refusing to make its products safer and halt dangerous marketing practices that often focus on youth.

Students Demand Action recently put out a list of steps it is asking the gun industry to take to reduce harm. It has asked the industry to stop marketing weapons of war to civilians and using military imagery to sell guns; stop making do-it-yourself kits that allow anyone to build untraceable ghost guns; stop producing weapons that are easily modified to make them shoot more rounds, more quickly; and stop working with dealers who sell guns without a background check, including at gun shows and online.

The gun industry brings in an estimated $9 billion a year, according to Everytown.

“We refuse to see our schools’ money invested in an industry that won’t even take simple steps to keep us safe,” Ade Osadolor-Hernandez, a volunteer with Students Demand Action and a student at the University of Chicago, said in a press release.

“The gun industry must be held accountable for its deadly practices, and we will work tirelessly to make sure that colleges and universities across the country divest from this killer business,” Osadolor-Hernandez added.

ABC News has reached out to the University of Chicago for comment.

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