Historic New York church loses gun control case with Walmart

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |
Shopping carts are seen outside a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Coolidge, Arizona December 6, 2010. | (FILE) Reuters/Joshua Lott

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) -- This week, a New York church that called for corporations like Walmart to be "socially responsible" lost a court battle seeking more oversight on the company's sale of semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity magazines.

A U.S. appeals court, April 14, reversed a federal district court decision made in November ordering the store to include a weapons sales policies proposal from the historic Trinity Wall Street Church in materials distributed at its June annual stockholders' meeting, Reuters reported.

Trinity, which owns 3,500 shares in the company, sought a board review and vote on rifle sales policies. The church reportedly claimed the products "enabled mass killings" and conflicted with Wal-Mart's "family and community values" brand by endangering public safety.

The decision by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allows Walmart to exclude the church's proposal which the retailer claimed would have encouraged other shareholders to interfere in business operations.

"We are disappointed with the ruling, but pleased that we have been able to draw attention to an important issue of corporate governance and social responsibility," Trinity said in a statement.

According to Forbes, Trinity first attempted to submit its proposal in December 2013.

After the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said they would not require Walmart to include the church's proposal in their 2014 proxy materials, Trinity filed suit for their proposal to be heard and voted on by the retailer's board.

Had the board been required to hear the measure, it is unlikely a major change would have occurred as the store's founders still own about half of the company's shares.

Randy Hargrove, a Walmart spokesman said the court made "the right decision."

The church stated that it will await the court's full opinion, which has not yet been released, before considering further legal action.

Despite the loss, the Washington Times reported Trinity's vicar, Rev. Phillip Jackson, said they would "continue to challenge the management and boards of the companies in which we invest to make social responsibility a real and integral part of their corporate mission."