Ben & Jerry’s gets political – again: Ice cream brand’s global head of activism says firm will NOT work with ‘enablers’ of gun industry as it calls on its fans to lobby for tighter laws
- Ben & Jerry’s is urging its customers to lobby lawmakers for new gun laws
- Calls for halt to donations to officials who are ‘blocking common sense gun laws’
- Company says it will sever ties with any ‘enablers’ of the gun industry
- Public appeal cites recent mass shooting tragedies in Uvalde and Buffalo
- The ice cream company has a long history of activism on social issues
Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s is calling on its customers to lobby US lawmakers for tighter gun control laws, and the firm says it will sever ties with any ‘enablers’ of the firearms industry.
‘It’s time for companies and their trade associations to stop political contributions to elected officials who do the gun lobby’s bidding, blocking common sense gun laws that nearly all Americans support,’ the statement said.
Founded in 1978 by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield in a renovated gas station, Ben & Jerry’s has long positioned itself as socially conscious, and retained independence to pursue political activism even after being acquired by Unilever in 2000.
Ben & Jerry’s founders Ben Cohen (left) and Jerry Greenfield are seen at a 2019 climate rally. The company, long outspoken on social issues, is calling for tighter gun control laws
In a direct appeal to its customers, Ben & Jerry’s called on them to lobby their representatives in Congress to ‘immediately pass a ban on assault style military weapons and high capacity magazines.’
The company also called on its fans to attend upcoming rallies in support of new con control laws, and to vote out any elected official who ‘takes money from the gun lobby and blocks common sense gun reform.’
Christopher Miller, the head of global activism at Ben & Jerry’s, told CNBC that when ‘legislation comes to the floor, we will certainly encourage our fans to contact their policymakers to support [gun safety] legislation.’
Asked about one of Ben & Jerry’s outside law firms that also represents gun makers, Miller also said the ice cream maker plans to cut ties with vendors who have worked with the firearms industry.
‘We’ll make sure moving forward we’re not working with enablers of the industry,’ Miller said.
‘I think we certainly will be more thoughtful on the kind of service providers that we work with going forward.’
In a direct appeal to its customers, Ben & Jerry’s called on them to lobby their representatives in Congress to ‘immediately pass a ban on assault style military weapons’ (file photo)
An impromptu memorial is seen in Uvalde last week, remembering the victims of the deadliest U.S. school mass shooting in nearly a decade
The US House is set to vote this week on a bill that would raise the national age limit for purchasing semiautomatic rifles to 21, from 18.
This week New York joined a number of other states in imposing an age limit of 21 at the state level. The age limit for handguns nationally already stands at 21.
Although Ben & Jerry’s did not name names in its statement, it took lawmakers to task for their perceived failures in addressing gun violence.
‘We are told that the unthinkable damage caused by weapons of war in the aisles of American grocery stores and the classrooms of our schools is the price we must pay for freedom. Instead it’s the cost of political cowardice,’ the company said.
‘Congressional leaders who refuse to pass common sense gun reform are choosing their own power at the cost of American lives every single day,’ the statement added.
Ben & Jerry’s has a long history of social activism, and this is not the first time the company has spoken out about gun control.
Following the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the ice cream maker issued demands for new federal gun control laws and helped pay to shuttle demonstrators to rallies.
Last year, Ben & Jerry’s released a new ice cream flavor (above) in support of a $10 billion bill by Rep. Cori Bush that would replace police officers with social workers in some situations
Last year, Ben & Jerry’s released a new ice cream flavor in support of a $10 billion bill by Rep. Cori Bush that would replace police officers with social workers in incidents of mental health and substance abuse.
But the firm’s activism has not always come without costs for parent company Unilever.
Ben & Jerry’s move last year to halt ice cream sales in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories sparked a backlash, including divestments by pension funds and accusations of anti-Semitism by some Jewish groups.
New Jersey and Arizona moved to dump their holdings of Unilever stock and bonds from state pension funds in response to the move.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also took steps to halt any state contracts with Unilever over the issue.
Other social activism that Ben &Jerry’s has pursued recently includes strongly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ+ rights and electoral campaign finance reform.