Open Letter to Donald J. Hall, Jr. CEO Hallmark and to Hallmarks’ Board of Directors

April 28, 2014

As victims of gun violence from the community of Newtown, Connecticut and nationally from the National Gun Victims Action Council, we are perplexed. Hallmark is a company we have always admired and held in the highest regard. We respect your stated beliefs and values, your community involvement and your philosophy as stated on your website:

“High standards of ethics and integrity.” “Caring and responsible corporate citizenship for…each community in which we operate.” "… That being a good corporate citizen isn't just something we talk about at Hallmark. It’s the essence of who we are.”

But, here is the paradox. We've become aware of the fact that you ban guns at your corporate headquarters. Why? We believe the reason is because guns add a significant measure of danger to any environment. Yet you allow guns in the 2,400 Hallmark Gold Crown® stores when you have the legal right to ban them. This double standard subjects customers and employees to the very danger you will not tolerate in your corporate headquarters. You don't even require your retail stores to post a sign warning customers that guns are welcome.

Recently, in response to Hallmark being included on the NRA's enemies list, your spokeswoman, Linda Odell, protested the inclusion and told the media that “…the company has no intention to support anti‐ gun initiatives.” (Orland Wagner/AP).

We take this to mean that Hallmark doesn't want to be seen as being publicly against the NRA’s gun agenda. However, we believe maintaining "High standards of ethics and integrity" as well as achieving “caring and responsible corporate citizenship," requires Hallmark to protect its customers from danger and to come out in favor of sane gun laws and practices. (By the way, we do not look at sane gun laws as “anti‐gun initiatives,” we look at them as “pro‐public safety initiatives.”)

We don't believe you can be both caring and neutral on this issue. You’re either for sane laws or you are not. And if you are not, that means you de facto support the laws passed at the behest of the gun lobby—the very laws which have caused the epidemic of gun violence in our country. This is not caring.

Knowing how dangerous guns are, we do not understand how you can square away Linda Odell's statement with your philosophy. We do not understand how Hallmark can say on their website that they "…support the needs of children and families…” and then choose to support the very thing that is the number two killer of children in our country—firearms.

“Guns are the second leading cause of death among children and teens ages 1 to 19…only motor vehicle accidents kill more children and teens every year." 7 children and teens die every day from guns and 50 children and teens suffer nonfatal gun injuries every day.
Children’s Defense Fund: Protect Children Not Guns 2013 Report

"Nationally, guns kill twice as many children and young people than cancer”
New England Journal of Medicine January 31, 2013


As victims of gun violence, we know full well the irreversible, heart shattering pain of permanent loss. We are committed to reverse the epidemic of gun violence that flows from the insane gun laws we have.

Congress has refused to pass the most obvious sane gun law to protect public safety—universal background checks (a background check for every gun sale). This is something polls consistently show that over 90% of Americans want including 74% percent of gun owners.* Let us remind you, this overwhelming majority of people seeking relief are your customers!

In addition to Hallmark doing the morally (ethically) right thing by requiring guns be banned at all Hallmark Gold Crown® stores, we ask that you publicly support universal background checks. Being on the side of what 90% of Americans want (including the great majority of NRA members) is good business.

We would like to meet with you and talk about this in person. This is a matter of the greatest urgency and import to us and before moving forward with anything else we want to understand your thinking. And, we would like you to understand ours. We want to unravel this paradox.

Is there any reason you would not be willing to meet with us before Mother's Day to discuss how we can work together? We would send a representative from each of the groups that have signed this letter.

So we can understand your intentions and discuss logistics, please contact Mr. Elliot Fineman, CEO of the National Gun Victims Action Council by Monday, May 5. We will rearrange our schedules to match any day/time that works for you.

EXAMPLES OF SUPPORT FOR UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS

Over 90 percent of Americans support gun background checks:
Quinnipiac Poll, Reuters February 7, 2013

*% Supporting Universal Background Checks--90 % of Americans, 74% of NRA members, 85% NRA household members, 91% of all gun‐owning households:
Washington Post‐ABC News poll, The Washington Post April 3, 2013

Veterans’ poll: 91 percent back gun checks:
Vote Vets and the Center for American Progress Survey, POLITICO April 11, 2013

Background Checks Beat Apple Pie, Baseball, Kittens In Americans' Hearts:
HUFF POST/YOUGOV POLL, The Huffington Post April 13, 2013

Universal Background Checks Have Higher Approval Rating Than Mother Teresa:
Public Policy Polling, NEWSMAX April 18, 2013


Sincerely,
National Gun Victims Action Council,
Elliot Fineman CEO


Newtown Victims & Clergy for Corporate Responsibility
Rabbi Shaul Praver, Congregation Adath Israel in Newtown Rev. Matthew Crebbin, Newtown Congregational Church, Newtown CT Rev. Mel Kawakami, Newtown United Methodist Church, Newtown, CT Rev. Kathleen Adams-Shepherd, Trinity Episcopal Church, Newtown, CT Chaplain Eman Beshtawii, Al Hedaya Islamic Center, Newtown, CT Azeez Bhavnagarwala, Al Hedaya Islamic Center, Newtown, CT Rev. Janice Touloukian, Newtown Congregational Church, UCC, Newtown, CT Monsignor, Robert Weiss, Saint Rose of Lima, Catholic Church, Newtown, CT John Woodall, Ba'hai Margo Woodall, Ba'hai Rabbi Irwin Huberman, Congregation Tifereth Israel in Glen Cove, New York Rabbi Ya'al Roner, Temple Emanuel, Kingston, New York The Reverend, David S. Gregory Spirit of Peace, United Church of Christ, Kingston, New York Reverend Bette Johnson Sohm, New Paltz United Methodist Church, New Paltz, New York Reverend David Jolly, Saint James United Methodist Church, Kingston, New York Reverend James Rowe, Redeemer Lutheran Church, Kingston, New York Sonja Maclary, Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, New York Reverend Edward Shreiber, Atonement Lutheran Church, Saugerties, New York Reverend William Delia, Cooperstown United Methodist Church , Cooperstown, New York The Reverend Caroline, Berninger, Rondout Valley United Methodist Church, Stone Ridge, New York

Parents & family of the slain
Veronique Pozner, (Mother of Noah Pozner, 1st grader Murdered in The Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting) David Wheeler (Father of Ben Wheeler, 1st Grader Murdered in The Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting) Francine Wheeler (Mother of Ben Wheeler, 1st Grader Murdered in The Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting) Neil Heslin (Father of Jesse Lewis, 1st Grader Murdered in The Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting)

Survivors
Abbey Clements (Teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School) Bear Nikitchyuk (injured during The Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting; survived)

First Responders:
Sue Morse (Social Worker, Grief Counselor) Marc Gold (Firefighter)

Activists
Pete Muckell (Business Leader active in Newtown political organizations) Jim Allyn (Leader in Arts, Musician, Founder of Newtown Youth Voices Sarah Clements (Leading Newtown Youth Activist; Mother was Teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting; survived) Brian Clements (Professor of Poetry at the University of Connecticut; founder 10,000 Poets for Gun Safety) Gina McDade (Newtown Media Consultant) Po Murray (Newtown Community Organizer and Leader) Dr. William Begg (Founder, United Physicians of Newtown) Andrei Nikitchyuk (Activist for Gun Safety, father of Bear Nikitchyuk) Erin Nikitchyuk (Activist for Gun Safety, mother of Bear Nikitchyuk) Ellie Nikitchyuk (Activist for Gun Safety, sister of Bear Nikitchyuk) Tallie Nikitchyuk (Activist for Gun Safety, sister of Bear Nikitchyuk) Beth Lebenson (Journalist, Media Coordinator for Global Coalition for Peace and Safety)