Levi’s, the famous denim brand, has taken an official stance on gun violence here in the USA. Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh penned a letter, published in Fortune on September 4th, outlining what led him to his decision to take a stand on this hot-button issue.
As president and CEO of a values-driven company that’s known the world over as a pioneer of the American West and one of the great symbols of American freedom, I take the responsibility of speaking up on the important issues of our day very seriously. We can’t take on every issue. 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.
That’s why Levi Strauss & Co. is stepping up our support for gun violence prevention. You may wonder why a company that doesn’t manufacture or sell guns is wading into this issue, but for us, it’s simple. Americans shouldn’t have to live in fear of gun violence. It’s an issue that affects all of us—all generations and all walks of life.
And this isn’t the first time Levi’s and its CEO have made national headlines in regards to gun control. Back in November 2016, Chip Bergh wrote an open letter asking customers to not bring firearms into Levis stores or offices after a customer accidentaly shot himself while trying on a pair of jeans.
Providing a safe environment to work and shop is a top priority for us at Levi Strauss & Co. That imperative is quickly challenged, however, when a weapon is carried into one of our stores. Recently, we had an incident in one of our stores where a gun inadvertently went off, injuring the customer who was carrying it.
So, while we understand the heartfelt and strongly-held opinions on both sides of the gun debate, it is with the safety and security of our employees and customers in mind that we respectfully ask people not to bring firearms into our stores, offices or facilities, even in states where it’s permitted by law. Of course, authorized members of law enforcement are an exception.
In addition to Levi’s previous efforts, they will be setting up the Safer Tomorrow Fund, which will help fund gun violence prevention nonprofits. Levi’s is also partnering with Everytown for Gun Safety to create Everytown Business Leaders for Gun Safety—an organization of business leaders who believe that businesses play a critcal role in ending gun violence. Lastly, Levis will be doubling their usual employee donation match to those organizations who are aligned with their Safer Tomorrow Fund and will encourage volunteer work and political activism by offering 60 hours of paid time off to attend such activies.
I know that Americans, including many of our own consumers, employees, and other partners, hold a wide spectrum of views related to guns. I’m not here to suggest we repeal the Second Amendment or to suggest that gun owners aren’t responsible. In fact, as a former U.S. Army officer, I took a solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. But as retired four-star general Michael Hayden once said, “There are some weapons out there that frankly nobody should have access to. And actually, there are some people out there who should never have access to any weapons.”
Only time will tell if Americans and 2nd amendment advocates will boycott Levi’s over this controversial decision. But, in the meantime, if you do decide to burn your favorite pair of Levi’s, we’re here to help with our Guide Gear Jeans—they’re tough as nails and they’ll always support the 2nd amendment.