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Levi’s Takes Aim at Gun Rights

Levi’s Takes Aim at Gun Rights

As it turns out, Nike isn’t the only iconic American company getting political this week.

Denim giant Levi Straus & Co. CEO Chip Bergh announced Tuesday in an open letter on Fortune that the company is doing three things to support “gun violence prevention.”

Nike stuck its athletic-shoe-soled foot in its mouth on Labor Day, signing controversial former NFL player Colin Kaepernick to a new deal to promote the company’s new ad campaign “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

The campaign saw #NikeBoycott hash tags from hundreds of thousands of angry people on social media, and some even started cutting the iconic swooshes off their clothes and setting their Nike shoes ablaze.

Now Levi’s is stepping into stormy political waters, which is sure to anger ardent supporters of the Second Amendment.

Coincidentally, Kaepernick and the 49ers play at … Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

Bergh said Levi’s is a company known the world over and while it can’t possibly take on every issue, “we simply cannot stand by silently when it comes to the issues that threaten the very fabric of the communities where we live and work. While taking a stand can be unpopular with some, doing nothing is no longer an option.”

As part of its three-pronged strategy, the company established the Safer Tomorrow Fund. Levi’s also is partnering with Everytown for Gun Safety and executives including Michael Bloomberg in forming Everything Business Leaders for Gun Safety. Finally, the company is doubling its usual employee donation match to organizations aligned with its Safer Tomorrow Fund.

Bergh said the company is not trying to force a repeal of the Second Amendment or suggest gun owners are irresponsible.

“In fact, as a former U.S. Army officer,” he wrote, “I took a solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The CEO said the goal is to “take common-sense, measurable steps — like criminal background checks on all gun sales — that will save lives.”

“As a company, we have never been afraid to take an unpopular stand to support a greater good. We integrated our factories in the American South years before the Civil Rights Act was passed. We offered benefits to same-sex partners in the 1990s, long before most companies did. We pulled our financial support for the Boy Scouts of America when it banned gay troop leaders.

While each one of these stands may have been controversial at the time, history proved the company right in the long run. And I’m convinced that while some will disagree with our stand to end gun violence, history will prove this position right too.

Our country has faced seemingly intractable issues like this before, but together we’ve overcome them. We can do it again. Together we can put an end to the gun violence epidemic in America.”