When Levi Strauss & Co. was founded in the Wild West back in 1853 by German-American businessman Levi Strauss, America was a lawless, violent place awash with guns and gun violence. And Strauss’ blue jeans, now an iconic symbol of American life, were quickly adopted as the standard uniform for red-blooded, gun-toting cowboys.
Sadly, though, gun deaths and injuries continue to plague the country, so much so that bosses at the international clothing company have decided to do something about it. And it sounds like they really mean business.
“Americans shouldn’t have to live in fear of gun violence,” said CEO Chip Bergh in a letter published in Fortune. “It’s an issue that affects all of us—all generations and all walks of life.”
In their efforts to stamp out gun violence, Levi’s will be setting up a ‘Safer Tomorrow Fund,’ which will give money to gun violence prevention-related charities and activists.
The company is also partnering with gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety to create the new venture Everytown Business Leaders for Gun Safety.
One of the things that makes gun reform so difficult in America is the wealth and power of the NRA, which is always flush with cash, so this financial backing for gun control groups will be a welcome step.
“We are inspired by the young people who are speaking up on America’s gun violence epidemic,” the company added in a press release. “It’s an issue that affects all of us in this country and is all too prevalent in daily life – whether it be our children participating in active shooter drills at school, worries about our own safety at work or in our community or, most tragic of all, someone we know being hurt by the daily gun violence in this country (one quarter of Americans say they have been directly affected by gun violence).”
Back in 2016, Levi’s caught lots of flack from US gun owners when they asked customers to stop bringing guns into their stores after a customer’s gun inadvertently went off in a Levi’s store.
“We know that the presence of firearms in our stores creates an unsettling environment for many of our employees and customers,” the CEO wrote at the time, adding “we sincerely hope responsible gun owners will respect our position.”
Levi’s decision comes just days after Nike’s step to come out in support of police violence protester and NFL player Colin Kaepernick.
It certainly feels like more and more corporations are starting to realise that their tremendous wealth and power brings with it great responsibility.
So will we see even more corporations plant their flag in the sand and stake their claim on the right side of history? Time will tell.
(Images: Getty / Brokeback Mountain)