'Government has to act now': Richard Edelman joins 100-plus CEOs on gun-control letter

The chief executives of major marketing holding companies are also urging the Senate to pass background check legislation and red flag laws.

NEW YORK: Edelman president and CEO Richard Edelman is one of 145 business leaders who has signed an open letter urging the Senate to pass legislation requiring universal background checks for gun purchases and "red flag" laws. 

The CEO of the world’s largest PR firm said there are three reasons why he added his name to the list of executives demanding gun laws. One is gun violence in his hometown. 

"I spend a quarter of my time in Chicago, and it’s a clear and pressing issue," said Edelman. Over the weekend, six people were killed and 18 were wounded in shootings in the city, according to the Chicago Sun-Times

He added that three-quarters of respondents to Edelman’s Trust Barometer expect business leaders to fill a leadership vacuum on social issues instead of waiting for the government. "So here we are, and government has to act now," he said. 

Edelman also noted that 60 of his agency’s staffers work pro bono for the Gun Safety Alliance, which collaborates with organizations such as Everytown for Gun Safety and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

"So why wouldn’t I take that cue and lead?" Edelman said.

Edelman was the only chief executive of a public relations firm to sign the letter. He was joined by leaders of major marketing holding companies such as WPP CEO Mark Read, Omnicom chairman and CEO John Wren, Interpublic chairman and CEO Michael Roth, Havas chairman and CEO Yannick Bollore and Publicis Groupe chairman and CEO Arthur Sadoun.

Chip Bergh, CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., organized the letter, according to The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin, who wrote an open letter a month ago urging the CEO of Walmart to take more action to prevent gun violence. Walmart, the largest seller of firearms in the U.S., has since changed its gun and ammunition sales policies

"CEOs are wired to take action on things that are going to impact their business, and gun violence is impacting everybody’s business now," Bergh told the Times.

Bergh, a prominent gun control advocate, was one of the first CEOs to ask customers to refrain from carrying firearms into his company’s stores. This letter also coincided with the anniversary of Levi’s launch of the Safer Tomorrow Fund, which has pledged to deploy $1 million in grants over the next four years.

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