by Chris Eger
Founded in 1853 in San Francisco, California, Levi Strauss bills themselves as “one of the great symbols of American freedom,” in their CEO’s stand against guns. (Photo: Chris Eger/Guns.com)
Iconic jeans maker Levi Strauss doubled down on its support for gun control Tuesday, pledging some $1 million to support groups to advance the cause. “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,” said Levi’s president and chief executive Chip Bergh in an op-ed published in Fortune. “It’s an issue that affects all of us—all generations and all walks of life.”
The company released a statement explaining the $1 million donation will go to Live Free, Giffords and Everytown. Additionally, the Levi Strauss Foundation will support a series of town hall meetings “in cities across the U.S. that are disproportionately impacted by gun violence.” To help boost the funds available, the company will double their donation match for employee contribution to the groups and encourage them to use five hours a month in company-paid volunteer time to “get more politically active.”
It is not the first time that Bergh has steered the brand in navigating gun policy. In 2016, he penned an open letter asking people not to bring firearms into company locations following an incident in which a customer accidentally shot and injured himself while trying on a pair of jeans. Bergh said this week that decision triggered threats to both Levi’s stores and himself.
“But these personal attacks pale in comparison to the threats that activists and survivors from Parkland, Sandy Hook, and daily incidents of gun violence face every time they speak up on this issue,” Bergh said.
Predictably, reactions to the decision were divided. Pro-gun groups like the National Rifle Association were quick to release memes calling for boycotts of the brand and claimed Levis “turns their back on Second Amendment supporting customers.”
On the other hand, gun control groups applauded the decision. “By standing on the right side of history, they’re sending a strong cultural signal that American companies can and should take a stand on this issue to put the safety of our families and communities first,” said Moms Demand Action leader Shannon Watts.