Citizens Hold Gun Company’s Owner Accountable

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In the aftermath of the tragedy in Newtown, CT, the nation’s attention has keyed in on details of that horrible event: the victims, including their names, ages, and accounts of the lives they led;  the suspect, including speculation about his motivation and mental instability; and of course, the weapons — a Glock 10mm handgun, Sig Sauer 9mm handgun, and a .223 caliber Bushmaster AR 15 rifle. The last of the three, an assault weapon by federal definition, has inspired some to look past the object, past its North Carolina-based manufacturer, Bushmaster, to Bushmaster’s owner, Freedom Group; then a step further to the Park Avenue-based Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity firm that created and is a majority stakeholder in Freedom Group.

On Monday, a spokesman for the California State Teachers’ Retirement System – which has $750 million invested with Cerberus – told Reuters:

“At this point our investment branch is examining the Cerberus investment to determine how best to move forward given the tragic events of last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut…”

Hours later, Cerberus released a statement of their plan to “immediately engage in a formal process to sell” their interest in Freedom Group, saying:

“As a firm, we are investors, not statesmen or policy makers. Our role is to make investments on behalf of our clients who are comprised of the pension plans of firemen, teachers, policemen and other municipal workers and unions, endowments, and other institutions and individuals. It is not our role to take positions, or attempt to shape or influence the gun control policy debate.  That is the job of our federal and state legislators.”

A dedicated group of concerned citizens do not believe that Cerberus’ decision to sell their majority stake in Freedom Group absolves them of responsibility. On Wednesday, they met outside the Upper East Side townhouse of billionaire Stephen Feinberg, the 52-year-old owner and CEO of Cerberus Capital Management. There they held a vigil and expressed their desire not only for federal and state action to address the deadly use of firearms, but also corporate accountability and dialogue from those responsible for their existence.

Jessica Wang, producer/editor; Cameron Hickey, camera

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  • Wisdomteeth

    The NRA as an entity and its leadership each INDIVIDUALLY are guilty of premeditated accomplices to MURDER on a large and growing number scale.

  • Guest

    To bad you folks don’t feel the same for the 3 million abortions each year. The constitution clearly states in the bill of rights we have the right to bear arms.

  • Wes Chapmon

    The concerned citizens group will also be seekining corporate accountability for the death of ever innocent person ever killed by AR15’s sold to the government, law inforcement and military.

  • Jeri Buffington

    Well done. My family and I are doing what we can. We are boycotting Walmart. Surely with the profits they’ve made out of driving family- and individually-owned stores OUT of business they don’t need to make MORE money from the sale of weapons and ammunition. Enough.

  • Ralph Reinhold

    Too bad you have to exaggerate. There are about 3/4 of a million abortions each year and over half are due to clinical reason. The definition of abortions being murder was made up in the 15th century by priests because of the high rate of infant mortality. It has less biblical validity than eating two different kinds of meat being an abomination against the lord.

    The courts have found that it is legal to restrict the number and kinds of weapons owned and who may own them. Australia, which has a very similar bill of rights, put in place a number of restrictions in 1996 when they had roughly twice the death rate from guns as the US. Today they have 1/20th.

  • zydecofan

    The right to bear arms does not include the right to wield an assault-style weapon or a high-capacity magazine. The Framers could not have intended this result.

  • guest

    The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    Whenever people quote this, they take it out of context. We do not have the right to use assault weapons to terrorize and kill innocent children.

  • Steve Bryan

    But we do have the right to kill children when our president decides to fire a missile from a drone. The guy tried to buy guns but was refused so he took from his mom. Not sure who is accountable there.

  • Cynthia Faisst

    I don’t know why it took everyone so long to realize what the NRA and the gun industry is getting away with. Its time to pass legislation which bankrupts their organizations, just like we are doing to the KKK. They have too much money and influence on our government. It time for them to become a shadow of themselves.

  • NoMoreAssaultWeapons

    To compare firing a drone to stop terrorists or even the leader of a country committed to genocide against his own people is not even within context of reason. Although I agree that the shooter’s mother was an unwitting accomplice. I’m sure she would have been as horrified at this turn of events…maybe even more…than all of us.

  • Lydia Jacobs

    The mother is accountable and she paid with her life. The company who made them-Bushmaster, Freedom Group and Cerberus all have varying degrees of accountability and should pay something, though certainly not with their lives. And, lawmakers who let the assault weapons law expire in 2003 are also accountable and should rectify it.

  • Lydia Jacobs

    All our freedoms from the Bill of Rights have limitations. For example, my freedom of speech has a limit. The 2nd amendment should also include limitations, and in my opinion, assault weapons and large capacity magazine clips fall into that area.

  • Wes Chapmon

    Guest, I do not believe you have accurately interpreted the context of the constitution or the second amendment. The constitution, specifically the second amendment, does not grant any right, especially not the right of the people to bear arms but rather limits the government from infringing on that preexistent right. The right of free people to bear arms is not conveyed to us by the government. No constitution or or amendment or law or order or uniform could ever give any person the right to use any weapon to terrorize or kill innocent children. I hope this is abundantly clear to every American (every human really) but fear that may not be the case.

  • James Lesley Jones

    I wish some historian could shed some light on this as it was not in the original constitution but added some time later and would of been ratified by the the States. The paragraph seems unclear to me first talking about a state malitia our National Guard, then out of the blue, right to bear arms. If it were made more clear. In San Francisco and other well governed states, firearms are forbidden.

  • Bob Macdonald

    just not buying it Mr. Feinberg . . . .“As a firm, we are investors,
    not statesmen or policy makers. Our role is to make investments on
    behalf of our clients who are comprised of the pension plans of firemen,
    teachers, policemen and other municipal workers and unions, endowments,
    and other institutions and individuals. It is not our role to take
    positions, or attempt to shape or influence the gun control policy
    debate. That is the job of our federal and state legislators.”

    and your team are knowledgeable and highly skilled investment
    professionals . . . You can’t expect anyone to believe that you were
    unaware of where the investments were placed. I’m a rank amateur by
    comparison and I know where every one of my investment dollars go.

    maybe not you personally but someone on the team you manage, made the
    decision to invest in the firearms manufacturer . . . You’ve reaped the
    profits for years, now suffer the misery your investments have helped

  • Gloria Sofranko

    Sorry, Wes, your reply seems to be intended to mock “guest” when it clearly was not his/her intent to imply the Constitution gives the right to terrorize. That’s why it’s so hard to have a logical conversation with gun owners. Arm chair constitutional lawyers keep making stuff up all the time. It about time someone finally says that the Founders were not infallible.

  • Anonymous

    To get down to basics is it not the manufacturer and the seller that should be held accountable

  • Lorenzo

    Did you know that the principle mission of the NRA is to sell guns for weapon manufacturing companies?

  • Pat Elgee

    Indeed, they are one of the stongest lobbyist groups in D.C.

  • Pat Elgee

    Really, at this time, investment in gun manufacturing has got to be risky. Laws, soon to come, may have a severe and negative impact on business.

  • Pat Elgee

    Thomas Jefferson added the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution so that the states would choose to ratify the Constitution. The Bill or Rights can not be altered in the Constitution. However the wording is unclear whether he meant that the Country has a right to an armed militia or if individuals have a right to guns. But then the militia was volunteer. Currently the Supreme Court rules that TJ was talking about individual rights.

  • Pat Elgee

    The public must be protected against violent people, sane or otherwise, with weapons.

    No one approach to public safety will work; therefore, we need to work on the problem in many ways.

    Stopping the sale of assault weapons and large capacity clips is one way.

    This restriction must be backed with stiff penalties, so if a felon is arrested and posesses an assault weapon, he will be facing prison, for owning the assault weapon, even if he is not convicted of another crime. Even unlicensed ownership of hand guns must not be allowed. Criminals with hand guns kill more than assault weapons.

    Another is to disallow anyone but a licensed gun dealer sell weapons, so everyone would be clecked to see if the buyer was licensed to buy weapons.

    Third, felons and mentally ill should not be allowed to buy weapons, even if the MI currently controlled by drugs.

    Now, when I saw the photo of this last crazy shooter, nobody had to tell me he was mentally ill. No doubt his former teachers would also be able to draw this conclusion. As a former teacher I can attest that in my last teaching assignment, there were easily 2 dozen students, who I know should never have a weapon, also that these 24 would probably be among the first to get one.

    Children in elementary school are graded on behavior, coorperation, consideration for others, now it is time for all teachers on all levels to grade students, not only on subject matter, but on risk assessment for violence, stability, etc.

    The composite score for behavior should be considered when someone applies for a gun license. Interestingly, it may also have a positive effect on a student’s behavior.

    I see only benefits to the public when volitale students are graded high for violent risk assessment and subsequently being denied guns, but there could be some court cases about losing rights without due process. Perhaps they could challange the grade by talking with a court appointed psychologist who could not be bought.

    One note: While the NRA and those whose votes they buy, say no to further limitations on gun ownership, they even cite need for better mental health services being more effective, yet those are the same people who keep hollering about cutting “entitlements”.

  • Duexcat

    The Framers, Founders, old White guys meant muzzle loaders, not assault weaponry. Go ahead and keep our muzzle loaders and churn your own butter, but BAN assault weaponry.

  • Charlie Mortberg

    The Framers meant that we should be able to take on the government. If that doesn’t call for big clips, artillery and other anti-personnel devices I don’t know what does!

  • Charlie Mortberg

    I agree. We shouldall bear armsto protect the innocents. Granted there will be some uncalled for deaths, but how many other lives could be saved, innocent ones?

  • Karen Clark

    I came home last night from a lovely New Year’s Eve dinner with friends, just 3 miles from where gun violence was erupting again in Old Sacramento. I turned on the TV to see the ball drop and was shocked by the “breaking news.” Oh my god, are my daughter and her family, my grandchildren, down by the river watching the fireworks. Are they alive? I don’t want to fight and scream anymore about the NRA, gun nuts, etc. I just want the insanity to end. We must as a country have the courage to eradicate easy access to guns and ammo.

  • Cynthia Faisst

    At the present time our society is meeting the needs of the gun industry. We need to do more than pass a few laws. We need a gun industry that serves the needs of society. Give the NRA back to local citizens and turn the entire gun industry into a non-profit enterprise, whose mission is to be of service as needed when and if we call on them. Its time to take the profit margin out of gun sales and get this industry off of Wall Street. There are so many creative ways to do this. Please start sharing your ideas. Ask an artist. They do non-profits all the time.

  • Cynthia Faisst

    Its tempting to agree with you. But we are the ones who have enabled them. Was it economic convenience?

  • Wisdomteeth

    My point was related to personal moral direct responsibility for the consequences of their individual actions. They are being treated as “executives” or as “lobbyists” when they are promoting/facilitating murder which should have guilt PROMINENTLY linked to it. Their personal behavior might change if they were confronted with the publicized broad public view that they are actual criminals.

  • Leinanij

    Cerebrus is the dog that guards the gates of hell. I guess this issue was too hot for even them.

  • sparky

    We need to concentrate on securing our schools now. Gun control won’t help us now. Teachers and school staff need more training to deal with active shooters. School need armored door locks, accessible SWAT type bulletproof shields, non-lethal weapons to disable a shooter, shims by every door so doors can be secured without a key. Pre-determined hiding places in school is a must. More metal detectors is a must. Metal detectors can be made very cheaply. Poor economies of scale only make them expensive now. Let’s be smarter. Even a strong magnet can be used my teachers to “scan” a suspect student or suspect backpack. There are numerous smart measures that can be taken to make the schools more secure, but I don’t see anything being done except the obvious. I’m all for gun control, but it won’t help now. Less guns lead to less shootings and deaths.
    You only have to look at the statistics in foreign countries. But less
    guns isn’t going to make our kids safer in the next 10 years.

  • Wes Chapmon

    Ms. Sofranko, I agree that logic is lacking in this debate.
    For instance, it is illogical to equate even the most extreme application of the right to bear arms expressed in the 2nd Amendment with a perceived license to use assault weapons (or any weapons) to terrorize and kill children. This is clearly an illogical and absurd argument and one worthy of mockery though I do not believe my response did actually mock the guest by addressing the fallacy of that argument. As for your post, you apparently assume that I am a gun owner or possibly you mean that only gun owners understand the 2nd Amendment as I have explained. Would you argue that all property owners must understand and support the 3rd Amendment differently than those that do not own property?
    You then go on to insult someone (presumably me given the context or maybe you mean everyone whose position you oppose) by calling me/us “armchair constitutional lawyers… making stuff up”. Is this not narrow minded and hypocritical? The Constitution, especially the bill of rights was written for the common man to understand and use. It was written in plain common English as a tool for the people to limit and manage government and to clearly define the rule of law and the rights and responsibilities between people and their representative government. This was intentional as the rebels/founding fathers had a particular dislike for the injustice and complexities of English law which were not understood by the common people and therefore kept them at the mercy of nobles and elites to interpret and apply it to them. It would be terrifying to be a commoner, possibly a criminal subject to arrest and punishment at any time without ever being able to know the law (when you were observing it or breaking it) and have no control over the creation, interpretation and administration of that law. It is this same elitism that would assert that only a select few scholars are capable of understanding the Constitution and therefore qualified to interpret it to the ignorant “We the People” by which and for which it was written and ratified.