Ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s is galvanizing its hundreds of thousands of shoppers in a latest lobbying push for tougher gun safety measures after last month’s mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, Latest York.
Christopher Miller, the pinnacle of worldwide activism on the ice cream company, told CNBC in an interview that the corporate has called on its 8 million Facebook fans and 515,000 Twitter followers to lobby lawmakers for stronger gun safety laws.
Ben & Jerry’s activism on guns comes as business leaders press Congress for changes to firearm laws following multiple mass shootings, including one which took the lives of 19 children and two teachers at a faculty in Uvalde, Texas. Billionaire Elon Musk told CNBC he wants “tight” gun background checks. In an open letter published within the Dallas Morning News, other Texas-based business leaders have called for more background checks, red flag laws and to lift the minimum age to buy a gun to 21.
Ben & Jerry’s was founded by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield within the late Nineteen Seventies, and is headquartered in Vermont with store locations all over the world. Since then, Cohen and Greenfield have been vocal political advocates on a wide selection of policies, including gun laws, voting rights and health care. Unilever is their parent company. Financier Nelson Peltz, a Republican backer, recently joined its board.
When “laws involves the ground, we will definitely encourage our fans to contact their policymakers to support [gun safety] laws,” Miller told CNBC in explaining the corporate’s plans to back the gun proposals being discussed in Congress.
The House of Representatives is ready to vote this week on a gun safety bill that lifts the purchasing age for semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21, limits the scale of gun ammunition magazines and provides standards for protected gun storage. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has yet to set a vote on gun safety laws.
Miller also said the ice cream maker plans to chop ties with vendors who’ve worked with the firearms industry.
“We’ll ensure that moving forward we’re not working with enablers of the industry,” Miller said after being asked about one in all its outside law firms, Shook, Hardy & Bacon, that has a big tobacco, alcohol and firearms practice. “I believe we definitely will probably be more thoughtful on the type of service providers that we work with going forward.”
Representatives for Shook, Hardy & Bacon didn’t return requests for comment. After reaching out to the law firm about its work for Ben & Jerry’s, sections of its website showing previous work for the Vermont company and details of its larger tobacco, alcohol and firearms practice appeared to have been removed.
Ben & Jerry’s publicly criticized lawmakers for inaction after the deadly shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo.
“This sort of gun violence in America should be stopped. But our leaders are more aware of the gun lobby than to the grieving families of countless victims. Their inaction to deal with gun violence is, itself, an motion and an act of violence,” the corporate’s statement said after the Uvalde shooting. The shooting in Buffalo left 10 dead and three wounded.
Ben & Jerry’s called on customers to contact their “congressperson and demand motion to stop gun violence,” and encouraged them to ask lawmakers to support a ban on assault-style military weapons and high capability magazines, in line with the statement. The corporate plans to maintain up the lobbying pressure online as bills and solutions are debated in Congress, Miller said.
“We have now a digital motion platform that permits people to make calls to Capitol Hill. That permits them to send emails to their governors, their state legislators and members of Congress. It allows people to tweet at and post messages on social to their elected officials,” Miller said.
This is not the primary time that Ben & Jerry’s has gotten political in its fight for stronger gun laws.
Miller told CNBC the corporate supported the gun laws passed by Vermont state legislators in 2018. On the time, Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed into law measures that tighten Vermont’s firearm laws, including buyers having to pass required background checks.
The corporate’s political activism has include some costs.
After Ben & Jerry’s decided to stop selling ice cream within the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and his administration moved to stop contracting with parent company Unilever and its subsidiaries.