Sunday, February 3, 2013

Public opinion matters

Even gun owners and NRA members overwhelmingly support background checks2 -- although the NRA's leadership opposes background checks and is at odds with its own members.3

Let's make sure members of Congress listen to their constituents and not the gun lobby. Call your Senators right now and ask them to support the Fix Gun Checks Act:

Thanks for supporting common sense reform and spreading the word!

Mayors Against Illegal Guns
1. "Background Checks Overwhelmingly Supported By Gun Owners In 4 States," January 21, 2013.
2. "Does the NRA agree with Wayne LaPierre?" January 31, 2013.
3. "NRA Supported Universal Background Checks After Columbine Massacre," January 31, 2013.

As a strong proponent of the Second Amendment, I believe it is essential to safeguard the law-abiding citizen's constitutional right to own and use firearms designed for legitimate purposes such as hunting, target shooting, collecting, and self-protection.  Restricting this right runs counter to the intent of our Founding Fathers, who expressly guaranteed that citizens would retain the right to keep and bear arms.  

It is encouraging that the Supreme Court has upheld the will of our Founders and re-affirmed the ideals our country was established upon.  The Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller provides a greater guarantee that Americans' Constitutional rights remain secure from federal government intrusion.  I was proud to sign an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in that case stating an individual’s right to bear arms is fundamental.  This historic ruling continues to have implications far beyond the District of Columbia.  In 2010, the Supreme Court decided in McDonald v. City of Chicago to strike down the arbitrary gun ban in Chicago—and thereby affirm that the Second Amendment safeguards against state and local encroachments on the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.
As a former Texas Supreme Court Justice and Attorney General, I have firsthand knowledge of crime-fighting policies that work, and I believe that citizens' Second Amendment rights should not be restricted because of the actions of criminals.  Rather, we must focus our attention on the source of violent crime: criminals who use firearms to commit crimes.  I believe that strictly enforcing the law—and meting out tougher sentences for career criminals and those who use firearms when committing crimes—will reduce crime more effectively than gun or equipment bans, which primarily serve to take firearms away from law-abiding citizens.
I appreciate the opportunity to represent Texans in the United States Senate, and you may be certain that I will continue working with my colleagues to protect our Second Amendment rights.  Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
United States Senator
517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856
Please sign up for my monthly newsletter at
Due to the nature of electronic communication, if you did not receive this e-mail directly from my office, I cannot guarantee that the text has not been altered.  If you have questions about the validity of this message, or would like to respond to this message, please use the web form available at my website,

My nine-year-old daughter, Christina-Taylor Green, was murdered with a gun in Tucson, Arizona two years ago today.

Since that day, far too many families have gone through similar pain.

Families in Aurora, Colorado. Families in Newtown, Connecticut. Families of the 33 people who are murdered with guns every single day across America.

How many more families need to feel that pain before our leaders take action? What will it take for them to find the courage to stand up to the gun lobby?

Today, please watch the TV ad I made with Mayors Against Illegal Guns and join me in calling on your leaders in Congress to Demand A Plan to end gun violence.

It’s past time for our leaders to take action.

Please make a donation of $35 or more to support the fight to end gun violence.

This July, I went to see a midnight movie with a couple of friends in Aurora, Colorado. Our fun night out turned into a nightmare.

At first, I thought it was a prank -- just some kids setting off fireworks. But when I realized what was happening, I immediately thought about other mass shootings: Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tucson.

Could what happened there actually be happening to us? The terrifying answer was yes, and Aurora is now part of that list.

My friends and I were lucky. We were among the 58 people who survived their injuries. But twelve others weren’t so lucky.

In the weeks that followed, we heard a lot of promises from politicians. Unfortunately, those promises didn’t go anywhere. And now, not even six months later, the list of mass shootings has grown again:Newtown.

Is there anything more horrible than the mass murder of innocent children? Do we need a clearer reason to finally take action?

The time is NOW! Join me in supporting the fight to end gun violence with a donation of $35 or more to Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the Demand A Plan campaign.

My survival, and the survival of my friends, was arbitrary. It all came down to where we chose our seats, where the shooter aimed his gun, where the bullets entered our bodies.

We can’t let fate be the difference between life and death in our country.

We need a real plan to end gun violence -- a plan to stop mass shootings and protect the 33 people murdered every day with guns. We need to stop dangerous people from getting their hands on deadly weapons.

Will you step up and support our fight?

Thank you,

Stephen Barton
Mayors Against Illegal Guns

P.S. -- I grew up just ten minutes from Sandy Hook Elementary. My heart goes out to the families of Newtown, and I'm committed to making sure our leaders hear their voices and take action. Your support today can make the difference.

That line of defense from gun proponents comes up again and again in the wake of mass shootings, like last week's at Sandy Hook elementary school that left 20 children and seven adults dead. It's true, in a sense: when holding objects that are specifically designed to be the most effective killing machines possible, people do, in fact, kill people.
And yes, people have gone on murderous rampages for all of human history, and have used whatever tools were at their disposal – rocks, knives, swords, their own hands – to inflict violence. The problem comes in when the tools at their disposal are really good at killing others without much work on the part of the killer, which is why lots of folks would like to see the United States institute some reasonable laws regulating gun ownership.
Time and again, though, the pro-gun right's answer is the same: people will find a way to kill, and violence is inevitable, so taking away guns won't work. Their solution seems to be a society where every citizen has a gun in one hand and crossed fingers on the other.

That perspective represents not just an intense cultural tie to guns, but a typically conservative view of humanity: people (other than me) are fundamentally bad and our time on Earth is in preparation for the afterlife, so why worry about making it better?
As we've seen in the debates on issues from climate change to gender equality to foreign policy, facts, statistics and rational arguments don't really matter if the goal of offering them up is to improve things in the here and now. It's a deeply pessimistic view of humanity that projects a strong sense of fatalism.
The point of being "good" isn't because goodness is valuable unto itself or because goodness is widely beneficial. The point of being good is to earn heaven points. Goodness, then, is defined according to a very particular set of religious and cultural values, and is highly "in-group" focused. Goodness means going to church, marrying early, submitting to a husband-in-charge family structure, having children out of obligationand upholding the social pillars that organize society to keep a particular group on top.
Goodness isn't necessarily helping other people or taking steps that are proven effective at decreasing violence or working to create a more accepting and happy world for our children. Goodness is upholding the power structures that have traditionally benefited the small group of men who think they have a monopoly on defining "goodness."
Without strong social incentives and harsh social punishments for deviation from these structures, they collapse – and they collapse because they simply don't serve large swaths of the American population (women who want equal rights, people of color, immigrants, poor people, non-Christians, gay people). There isn't much of a reason for why these particular structures are the best, other than that the few people who benefit from them seem to like them. But the fundamental argument in their favor seems to be that without a social organization that puts white Christian men on top, the hordes of "bad" people will simply be out there – and there is nothing we can do other than arm ourselves against them.
That's why "guns don't kill people, people kill people" is still considered an actual argument. It's why the debates on gun control go in circles. One side thinks we have serious but fixable cultural problems with violence, with a masculinity that is tied to aggression and with the glorification of gun culture, and that the wide availability of all sorts of deadly weaponry in such a culture enables an unconscionable amount of lethal violence. The other side thinks people are just sinners, our time on this planet is meant to be trying and ugly, guns represent freedom and man's dominion over the Earth, and gun deaths simply result from a lack of Christianity and the attendant breaks from a "traditional" model that necessitated the oppression of a great many Americans.
As Dennis Prager argued in the National Review, no one fears being massacred by a "decent" person. We fear being massacred by someone bad.
It is certainly true that "good" people don't walk into a classroom and shoot a group of six year-olds. It's also true that good people don't murder their wives and girlfriends – yet five times more women are killed by intimate partners every year than by strangers, and 95% of the women who are killed with a firearm are murdered by a man. If there's a gun involved, an incident of domestic violence is 12 times more likely to result in death. And while mass shootings understandably capture our national attention, the more than 30,000 American gun deaths every year (and their $37bn price tag) should spur us to action.
It's easy to read those figures and conclude that conservatives are right: we are a world of awful, violent people who are going to keep on being awful and violent no matter what, so gun control serves no purpose and we'll all be better off in Heaven anyway. But as is true with almost anything that makes life on Earth brutish and miserable, we have the power to change that. Gun deaths are lower in the states with the strictest gun control laws. And the majority of US gun deaths actually comprises suicides – acts committed not generally by evil, murderous people, but by individuals who are sick and hurting and need help.
Many other gun deaths occur in neighborhoods plagued by violence and poverty. What's clear is that while some gun homicides are surely meticulously plotted by an evil-doer who would find a different weapon if no guns were available, the vast majority is lethal specifically because a gun was readily available.
The solutions, then, must be multifold: poverty alleviation; better mental health care with a focus on suicide prevention and depression treatment, not the stigmatization of the mentally ill, who are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators; and yes, gun control to make it more difficult for a firearm to be such an easily-accessed weapon.
To most people who believe in evidence-based policy and sociological realities, those solutions make sense. But to people who have no interest in actually finding solutions or making the world a better, safer, happier place, it's like talking to a brick wall. Why improve life on earth if life on earth is temporary and all that matters is to secure a seat in the clouds?
That's why you hear people like Mike Huckabee saying that mass shootings are somehow related to prayer in school and contraception, or Charlotte Allen arguing that the decline of traditional gender roles led to these shootings and that husky 12-year-old boys should throw their bodies at armed men.
Huckabee doesn't actually think that saying prayers prevents gun violence or that contraception makes killers go on shooting sprees, any more than Allen believes that 12-year-old boys are made of Kevlar. They think that the world is divided into sinners and repentant sinners, and the only way to be a "decent" person is to fall in line behind their very narrow, often very harmful, beliefs.
Gun deaths, of course, are significantly more common in the most religious states of the nation. And gun deaths are very low in the relatively non-religiously-observant states of northern Europe. In the UK, the homicide by firearm rate is approximately one in a million. Ditto in France. That must be nice. More people are killed by guns in the US every day than in an entire year in Japan – by a factor of about 12.
Every nation in the world has people who are sadistic and violent or sick and violent. And yet, the kinds of regular mass rampages that have now happened several times this year alone in the United States seem to be a specifically American phenomenon.
As the Sandy Hook shootings unfolded, I watched many of the journalists I follow on Twitter post links to the articles about gun violence that they had written after the previous mass shooting, or the one before that. I watched friends on Facebook like and link to the inevitable memorial pages, this time around noting the too-short lives of 20 smiling kids who were practically infants, ensuring readers and supporters that these little angels are now safely in Heaven.
That's an impulse I understand, but it's not a solution.
Only in America do political writers all seem have a stable of articles about mass shootings that they can bring out and repost or revise when the next one occurs.
Only in America do we collectively shrug our shoulders when yet another young white man goes on a shooting spree.
Only in America do we remain convinced that people will kill no matter what, so we may as well give people virtually unlimited access to some of the deadliest hand-held weapons ever invented.
Only here, in America, do we think that the best we can do is a Facebook page and a plea to God.

More than 31,000 Americans have signed a petition calling for British TV host Piers Morgan to be deported.

They are angry about his advocacy of gun control, in the wake of the 14 December shootings in Connecticut.

The petition followed an interview with Larry Pratt, director of Gun Owners of America, on CNN - in which Mr Morgan called his guest "a dangerous man".

Petitions posted on the White House website only require 25,000 signatures to get a response from the government.

The campaign was started by a journalist in Texas following Mr Morgan's CNN programme of 19 December.

The petition says the talk show host "is engaged in a hostile attack against the US Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment", which protects an individual's right to own guns.

"We demand that Mr Morgan be deported immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights and for exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens."

Mr Morgan has responded, repeatedly, on his Twitter account.

"If I do get deported from America for wanting fewer gun murders, are there any other countries that will have me?" the 47-year-old joked after the 25,000-signature threshold was passed.

He added: "Wanting America to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines isn't anti-constitutional - it's called 'common sense.'"

Later he said, in a reference to the Constitution's guarantee of freedom of speech: "Ironic US gun rights campaign to deport me for 'attacking Second Amendment rights' - is my opinion not protected under 1st Amendment rights?"

In the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama has vowed to push for immediate and concrete gun safety proposals.

But the pro-gun National Rifle Association (NRA), which has more than four million members, has rejected the need for tighter gun control. According to the Small Arms Survey, there were 88.8 firearms for every 100 Americans in 2007.

'Stupid man'
Mr Morgan's interview, on his nightly chat show, came five days after gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school.

Mr Pratt said tighter controls on gun sales would not put an end to similar tragedies.

"The problem occurs in those areas precisely where we have said 'no guns'," he said.

Mr Morgan hosts a nightly chat show on news network CNN
"Where the guns are allowed freely to be carried... we have very low murder rates.

"We only have problems in our cities and, unhappily, in our schools, where people like you have been able to get laws put on the books that keep people from being able to defend themselves."

Mr Morgan responded: "You're a very stupid man, aren't you?

"You have absolutely no coherent argument. You don't actually give a damn about the gun murder rate in America."

He ended the combative interview by calling Mr Pratt "a dangerous man espousing dangerous nonsense" and declared, "you shame your country".

The tone deaf and horrifyingly self-serving speech given by Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association on Friday cast a pall over our holiday season. It took the NRA a full week to prepare THIS?

1. Blamed video games for massacre of 6-year-olds and elementary school teachers. No evidence video games implicated.

2. Blamed movies for massacre of 6-year-olds and elementary school teachers. No evidence movies implicated.

3. Urged creation of 100,000-strong new Federal bureaucracy of armed school guards, which implies big tax increase. Thanks, Wayne! (And did not mention that Columbine had an armed guard or that Virginia Tech has its own police department.)

4. Condemned “gun-free schools” policy as insane.

5. Scaremongered about rise in violent crime. Murder rate in US cut in half since 1990, but did not mention that firearms murder rate remains highest among advanced countries.

6. Condemns confusion of semi-automatic guns with “machine guns.” Does not mention how many bullets a minute a semi-automatic gun with expanded clip can shoot.

7. Seems to call for armed adult volunteers to show up at our elementary schools to engage in vigilante ‘guarding’ of them. Are these likely the people we want in our schools?

8. Wants cordons around schools instead of gun control.

9. Offers to train elementary school children in use of firearms.

10. Does not mention that semi-automatic rifles were designed for military use and are not necessary for hunting, or that they are banned for civilians among all our NATO allies.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Today's NRA press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis our country is facing. Their proposed solution to reduce mass shootings like the one in Newtown, CT: put armed guards in every school in America.
The NRA's extreme leadership has completely lost touch with the American people, their members, and reality. Today, they made it even more clear with what they didn't say:
Not a word about background checks. Not a word about assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Not a word about ending gun trafficking.
Not an ounce of common sense.
Please join me in rejecting the NRA’s vision of a world where everyone is armed and no one is safe.
You would think that following the execution of 20 first graders, the NRA would finally come around to the need for common sense gun laws. Instead, they doubled down on their extreme agenda.
What we need are the tough new laws that we know will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and protect our children.
What we don’t need is a culture of fear that increases gun sales while putting our families at even greater risk.
Tell your members of Congress that it's time to stand up to the NRA:
Thanks you for standing against the gun lobby,
Mark Glaze
Mayors Against Illegal Guns
P.S. -- A group of 53 artists joined our effort to Demand A Plan and recorded a powerful, personal message. Please take a minute to watch the video and share it with your friends and family:

(Reuters) - Gun makers are facing pressure from some major U.S. investors after the Newtown elementary school shooting, with private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP announcing it would sell the largest U.S. manufacturer of firearms and major public pension funds reviewing their gun-related investments.

Cerberus said on Tuesday it would sell Freedom Group, whose AR-15-type Bushmaster rifle was used by a 20-year-old gunman to kill 20 children and six staff in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Cerberus' move came after some of its investors had expressed concerns, including the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS), which said on Monday that it was reviewing its investment with the private equity firm.

"It is apparent that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level," said Cerberus, which has more than $20 billion under management.

The $150.1 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund is reviewing its investments in firearm manufacturers, a spokesman for New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said on Tuesday.

New York City's pension funds are also reviewing investments and may sell nearly $18 million worth of stock in four companies that manufacture guns and ammunition, a spokesman said on Tuesday. The city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has been a leading advocate for gun control in the U.S.

The city's $128 billion pension funds hold nearly $14 million worth of shares in ammunition maker Olin Corp, $1.7 million in gun maker Smith & Wesson Holding Corp, $2.4 million in gun maker Sturm Ruger & Co Inc and $17,866 worth of stock in Brazilian gun maker Forjas Taurus SA.

Shares of Smith & Wesson fell nearly 10 percent, shares of Sturm Roger fell 7.7 percent, shares of Forjas Taurus fell 3.8 percent and shares of Olin fell 2.1 percent on Tuesday.

It wasn't just public pension funds who were questioning whether they should have investments in gun companies.

King Lip, chief investment officer for San Francisco-based wealth adviser Baker Avenue Asset Management, said has received calls from clients wanting to make sure that the firm did not own or buy shares in gun-makers or gun-related companies.

"This one has especially hit close to home for a lot of people. A lot of our clients have kids or grandkids," said Lip, whose firm has about $800 million in client assets under management. The firm does not own any gun-related stocks.

As outrage grew over the killings in Newtown, some gun retailers pulled rifles off their shelves. Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer, took down an informational website about semi-automatic Bushmaster rifles.

Dick's Sporting Goods pulled all guns from its store closest to the site of the massacre, and suspended the sale of certain kinds of semi-automatic rifles from its chains nationwide. Cabela's however, continued to advertise the AR-15 type Bushmaster rifles on its website.

California Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Monday asked CalSTRS and the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) to account for their investments in gun manufacturers. Lockyer proposed that the state's public pension funds, the largest in the United States, sell their interest in any company that makes guns that are illegal under California's assault weapons ban. California's ban includes the Bushmaster rifle.

"We are not precluding the possibility of extending a divestment move to the retail sector, but right now we are focused on the source, which is the manufacturers," Lockyer's spokesman Tom Dresslar said.


U.S. lawmakers have not approved a major new federal gun law since 1994, and a ban on certain semi-automatic rifles known as assault weapons expired in 2004.

The Newtown killings have led President Barack Obama and some congressional leaders to reconsider what has been a largely hands-off approach to gun control in recent years.

The percentage of Americans favoring tough gun regulations rose significantly after the killings at the Connecticut school, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Monday.

While the latest moves by investors could herald a new chapter in corporate America's stance toward the issue of gun rights, it remains to be seen if they will have lasting effects.

Several investors held firm about investing in gun-related stocks, seeing the debate more as a knee-jerk reaction to a tragedy. Vanguard Group Inc, the largest shareholder in Smith & Wesson, for example, said it was not in a position to meet what it called the "social concerns" of all shareholders.

Vanguard said in a statement it was "deeply saddened by the tragedy" but that most of its shares in Smith & Wesson and Sturm Ruger were held in index funds.

"All these stocks are getting hit, but ironically I think what we'll find is that traditional gun purchases will actually rise," said Timothy Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in New York.

"People are scared, and there's a good slice of America that very much believes they have a right to protect themselves," said Ghriskey, whose firm has a small position in gun retailer Cabela's. Cabela's shares fell 5.9 percent.

A German fund manager, who focuses on "sin" stocks such as firearms, alcohol and gambling, said he was sticking with his recommendation to buy Smith & Wesson stock despite Newtown.

It's a terrible tragedy, he said, "but everyone who changes his investment strategy now should ask himself if he really is surprised. Didn't they read newspapers in the past?"


Still, investor outrage over the shooting was enough for Cerberus to decide to sell Freedom Group.

The firm's decision came late on Monday night, after executives deliberated on the impact of the shooting, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.

The private equity firm, which was founded by Stephen Feinberg and William Richter in 1992, also has to be careful not to anger investors at a time it is seeking to raise up to $3.5 billion for a new buyout fund.

Feinberg's father, Martin Feinberg, is also a resident of Newtown, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing an interview with him. Public records show a Martin Feinberg residing in a retirement facility in Newtown.

Cerberus bought firearms maker Bushmaster in 2006 and later merged it with other gun companies to create Freedom Group, which reported net sales of $677 million for the nine months ended September, up from $565 million a year earlier.

Cerberus filed for an initial public offering of Freedom Group in October 2009 but withdrew the registration in April 2011, without offering a reason.

"It's an unusual move by Cerberus but it was a terrible event, so they are responding to some of their investors who are teachers' funds. I'm sure they will be selling it at a low price because now would not be a good time to sell the business," said Steven Kaplan, a University of Chicago finance professor.

(Additional reporting by Martine Geller, Hilary Russ and Ashley Lau in New York, Lisa Baertlein and Peter Henderson in Los Angeles and Dan Burns in Newtown, Connecticut; Editing by Paritosh Bansal, Tiffany Wu and Michael Perry)

Dec 18 (Reuters) - The National Rifle Association said on Tuesday it is "prepared to offer meaningful contributions" to prevent future massacres like the Connecticut shooting on Friday, marking a sharp change in tone for the nation's largest gun rights group.

"The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters - and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown," the organization said in a statement sent to reporters.

The NRA plans a news conference on Friday after staying silent out of respect for families in Newtown, Connecticut, and as a matter of common decency, the statement said.

It turns out that the Newtown shooter used a semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle and he had lots of thirty-round high-capacity clips for it. Authorities have revealed that each of the 20 children and six adults he killed was shot multiple times, but given the number of clips Lanza brought with him, the number of victims could have been much, much higher. The Federal ban on weapons such as the Bushmaster, in place 1994-2004, was allowed to lapse by the George W. Bush administration and his Republican Congress, all of whom received massive campaign donations from the gun lobby. There is a Connecticut ban, but the maker of the Bushmaster used a loophole in the poorly written state law to continue to sell the gun in the state. The Bushmaster is manufactured by a subsidiary of the Wall Street hedge fund, Cerberus Capital Management, called the “Freedom Group”– which also owns Remington and DPMS Firearms. It is the largest single maker of semi-automatic rifles in the US, and they are expected to be a major growing profit center in the coming years. The Freedom Group was sued over the Washington, DC, sniper attacks, and paid $500,000 without admitting culpability.

A US private equity firm has said it is to sell its stake in the maker of the AR15-style rifle used in the Newtown school shootings.

Cerberus Capital Management's move came after pressure from one of its own biggest investors, the California State Teachers' Retirement System (Calstrs).

Cerberus bought Bushmaster in 2006, and more gunmakers since, merging them into Freedom Group, which it will now sell.

The firm said it wanted to avoid being drawn into the gun control controversy.

The announcement by Cerberus comes four days after 20 young children and six adults were killed by 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Mr Lanza then killed himself.

He had earlier killed his mother at her home before travelling to the school.

The murders have renewed the debate over the need for gun control in the US, with President Barack Obama promising "meaningful action", and adding that "as a country, we have been through this too many times".

The National Rifle Association, the largest pro-gun rights organisation in the US, has not commented since the mass shooting.

Politicians previously against more gun control have also generally been quiet, while one, Virginia Democrat Mark Warner, said the Newtown attack had made him rethink his opposition to a ban on assault weapons.

However, gun control is difficult to tighten in the US, because the second amendment of the country's constitution guarantees the "right to keep and bear arms".

'Senseless violence'
"We believe that this decision allows us to meet our obligations to the investors whose interests we are entrusted to protect without being drawn into the national debate that is more properly pursued by those with the formal charter and public responsibility to do so," Cerberus said in a statement.

"We do not believe that Freedom Group or any single company or individual can prevent senseless violence or the illegal use or procurement of firearms and ammunition," the firm added, noting that Freedom Group only sold weapons to federally licensed dealers and distributors, and not directly to US citizens.

Freedom Group claims to be the world's largest manufacturer of commercial firearms, selling over two billion rounds of ammunition each year.

As well as Bushmaster, the maker of the AR15-style rifle, Freedom Group also owns Remington, the oldest US gunmaker established in 1816, and seven other gun arms manufacturers, as well as majority stakes in two clothing companies specialising in hunting and paramilitary apparel.

The group made profits before tax of $2.7m in the 12 months to September 2012, on $875m of sales.

Calstrs, which is the second largest pension fund in the US, had said on Monday that it was reviewing its own $750m (£460m) investment in Cerberus in light of the deaths of 20 school children and seven adults including teachers at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday.

Cerberus, which is one of the biggest private equity firms in the world with over $20bn of assets under management, said that the shootings represented "a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level".

Proceeds from the sale of Freedom Group would be returned to Cerberus' investors, and not reinvested by the firm.

No comments:

Post a Comment