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Levi’s joins call for tougher gun laws with initial $1M donation

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By Agence France-Presse

Iconic American jeans maker Levi Strauss & Co has added its voice to the growing outcry over gun safety, calling for “common-sense” legislation after numerous mass shootings in the United States.

Levi’s Chief Executive Chip Bergh, alluding to the company’s legacy as “one of the great symbols of American freedom” and of the American West, came out in support of criminal background checks on all gun purchases and announced significant donations to support gun control advocacy groups.

“We can’t take on every issue,” Bergh wrote in a column in Fortune on Tuesday. “But as business leaders with power in the public and political arenas, we simply cannot stand by silently when it comes to the issues that threaten the very fabric of the communities where we live and work.

“While taking a stand can be unpopular with some, doing nothing is no longer an option.”

The Levi’s statement comes on the heels of announcements of restrictions on some gun sales by major retailers including Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods after the Florida shooting in February in which 17 people were killed.

It also comes as companies with massive public profiles are being drawn increasingly into hot-button political debates, including immigration policies and police bias against minorities.

Citing the statistic that 96 Americans are killed each day, Bergh pledged $1 million in grants to nonprofits working on gun violence, including Everytown for Gun Safety.

He also joined a business coalition led by former New York mayor and news media executive Michael Bloomberg calling for gun control laws.

Levi Strauss also will double its match of employee donations to gun control groups and tweak its employee volunteer program to encourage workers support those who push for gun control.

Levi’s grants employees five hours a month in paid volunteer time and “we recently expanded this to include political activism,” Bergh said.

“We’re encouraging our employees to use their time to make an impact,” he added. (AFP)