Berkshire Bank will no longer provide lines of credit to Sig Sauer, the assault weapons manufacturer whose MCX semi-automatic rifle was used by the Pulse gay night club shooting that left 49 people dead in 2016. The bank had previously been one of six identified by New York City’s Public Advocate that combined to provide the arms giant with $178 million in loans in December 2015.
ThinkProgress identified Berkshire Bank as one of 17 lenders that have provided financing to the assault weapons industry. One of those, Bank of America, announced after the Parkland school shooting that it is reevaluating its own relationship with the gun industry.
The decision was first reported by freelance writer Eoin Higgins on Sunday evening.
No longer, though. Berkshire cut ties with Sig last week. The change was brought about by the activism of local north Berkshire and southern VT group Greylock Together. (3)
— Eoin Higgins (@EoinHiggins_) March 5, 2018
Elizabeth Mach, senior vice president and marketing officer for Berkshire Bank, confirmed the decision to ThinkProgress on Monday morning. In an emailed statement, she wrote, “At one time, Berkshire Bank was a participating lender in a syndicate of banks that had a lending relationship with Sig Sauer. However, as of 18 months ago we are no longer part of this lending group and we have no further lending relationship with Sig Sauer.”
Public Advocate for the City of New York Letitia James (D) told ThinkProgress: “After the devastation that occurred at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, I called on six financial institutions, including Berkshire Bank, to terminate their financial support of Sig Sauer, the maker of the assault weapon used in that mass shooting. I am pleased that Berkshire Bank heeded our call and terminated this relationship. I implore the other five institutions and countless others that support gun manufacturers to act on their obligation to keep Americans safe and follow suit. No company should be complicit in the senseless violence that has taken the lives of our children and our loved ones.” (The five remaining banks are BB&T, Citizens Financial Group, People’s United Bank, Regions Financial Corp., TD Bank.)
Ali Benjamin, one of the co-founders of Greylock Together, told ThinkProgress on Monday that a group of activists from her group — a Berkshires-based part of the Indivisible network — had indeed reached out to the bank last week to urge its leaders to sever any ties with the company. She praised the response, recounting, “They got back to us almost immediately, said they have in fact cut ties… We appreciate how swiftly they responded, responded unambiguously, said they’re interested in meeting with us about this issue.”
“We got exactly what we were looking for,” she concluded.
This story has been updated to include comments from Letitia James and aly Benjamin.