Newtown Families Demand Cerberus Capital Management End Investment in Freedom Group Gun Manufacturer

[NEW YORK, NY]  Families of Sandy Hook victims, U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY-13), Geoffrey Eaton, NAACP Mid-Manhattan President, and a diverse coalition of gun violence prevention advocates held a press conference and action at 12pm today, outside the offices of Cerberus Capital Management (875 3rd Avenue, New York) to call on the hedge fund to immediately sell all investments in Freedom Group, the company that manufactured the XM-15 assault rifle used in the December 14, 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

no more names

Cerberus has not sold a single penny of its 94 percent stake in Freedom Group (now officially called Remington Outdoor Company Inc.), despite making a public commitment to divest in the days immediately following the shooting. Immediately following this afternoon’s press conference, Rangel, Eaton, and more than 35 advocacy groups will deliver a letter telling Cerberus CEO Stephen Feinberg to keep his promise without further delay.

“Cerberus already made a commitment to stop profiting from America’s gun violence epidemic,” said NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “What they haven’t done is followed through. Cerberus needs to honor its promise to the victims of Sandy Hook and to all Americans whose lives have been turned upside down by gun violence by ending its investment in this destructive industry.”

“I’m here today to try to remind Cerberus the promise they made and that they’re letting my son Jesse down,” Neil Heslin, father of slain first grader Jesse Lewis, said. “There was a promise made then by Cerberus to sell their interest in Bushmaster.”

Families of the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary were on hand to join the call for Cerberus to divest. Other groups who signed the letter included the office of New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, the American Federation of Teachers, Ceasefire New Jersey, Americans United for Change, Moms Demand Action, MoveOn.org, Newtown Action Alliance, Million Hoodies Movement For Justice, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, and about 30 other organizations.

In the weeks following the Sandy Hook shooting, de Blasio joined elected officials and activists across the country to launch the Campaign to Unload, urging hedge funds and money managers to divest from the manufacturers of assault weapons and high-capacity ammo magazines. Within weeks, eight hedge funds and money managers had completely divested their gun holdings, valued at $150 million. Fourteen more firms have scaled back their gun investments by 5.7 million shares — 25 percent of their holdings.

Firms that sold their positions include »
• AGF Investments Inc.
• Tiger Global Management
• Impala Asset Management
• Owl Creek Asset Management
• Valinor Management, LLC
• Citadel Investment Group
• Highside Capital Management
• Coghill Capital Management
• Route One Investment Co.
• Royce & Associates

Freedom Group manufactures the Bushmaster XM-15, the assault rifle with a 30-round magazine used by Adam Lanza to murder 20 elementary school children and six educators. It is the leader in marketing high-capacity, military style assault weapons. Moreover, Freedom Group helps bankroll the National Rifle Association’s campaign to stop any meaningful federal legislation to prevent gun violence. At the NRA’s annual meeting in May, Freedom Group was honored for giving the organization a million dollars or more. The firearms industry as a whole has donated between $19.3 million and $60.2 million to the NRA since 2005, as detailed in the new Violence Policy Center (VPC) report Blood Money II: How Gun Industry Dollars Fund the NRA.

“It is outrageous that Cerberus has not fulfilled its commitment to sell its holdings in gun manufacturers. Every day in the last nine months since Cerberus made its promise, every 30 minutes a child has been killed by a gun. With the human toll of gun-related violence this high, a commitment to do something about it should mean more than words,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

“Inexcusably, Cerberus continues to bankroll the company that made the assault weapon used in one of the worst mass shootings in American history,” said Josh Sugarmann, Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center. “Freedom Group then pays the NRA a million dollars, and the NRA lobbies Congress to keep these deadly assault rifles on our streets. There is an easy way for Cerberus to break this cycle: Keep their promise and end its investments in Freedom Group.”

“The gun industry epitomizes corporate irresponsibility by failing to exercise a duty of care for its deadly products, by refusing to modify its products to protect consumer health and safety, and by lavishly funding the NRA to obstruct federal gun safety legislation. It’s one big bad rotten apple,” said Leah Barrett, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.

“Each time a senseless act of violence and tragic loss of life occurs, disingenuous individuals and organizations come forth with proclamations of action and change,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “But when the time comes to for action, they do nothing. It is utter cowardice and it must stop. We will not stand for empty promises any longer – America deserves better.”

“Did Cerberus really think we would forget about its promise to divest its interest in the Freedom Group, the maker of the weapon used at our school?,” asked Monte Frank, a board member of the Newtown Action Alliance. “We haven’t and we intend to hold Cerberus to its word.”

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The event at Cerberus Capital Management was organized by the Campaign to Unload, a national coalition of more than 30 organizations which represent more than 20 million Americans. The coalition’s members include: New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, American Federation of Teachers, Newtown Action Alliance, MoveOn.org, Mom’s Demand Action, CREDO Action, Rebuild the Dream, Violence Policy Center, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Every Child Matters, GunFreeKids.org, Art Not War, New Mexicans for Gun Safety, Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, Protect Minnesota, Women Against Gun Violence, Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort Educational Fund, New Mexicans for Gun Safety, Ceasefire New Jersey, Grandmothers Against Gun Violence, Reston-Herndon Alliance to End Gun Violence, Bergen County Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, Sisters United, Sparrow Media, It Can Happen Here, Colorado Ceasefire Capitol Fund, Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, Iowans for Gun Safety, North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, GunSense Vermont, Brooklyn For Peace, Million Hoodies Movement For Justice, Heeding God’s Call, and Harlem Mothers Save.

» To learn more, visit the coalition’s website at http://unloadtheguns.com

 

Comments

6 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. JT,

    Rangel & legislatures should focus on the leader of violent crimes in this country, which are black on black crimes, as well as reforms & real care for the mentally-ill-not target the vast majority of Americans who honor & believe on the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. True liberty is a defense against tyranny. Tyranny thrives in our federal gov’t on Capitol Hill. ARs are not the problem, though I can understand the need to place blame. It’s just misplaced rage.

  2. bob dingo,

    The technical classification for the semi automatic XM-15 and the ARmalite-15 is a “defensive carbine”. A fully automatic rifle such as the M4 is the only version of that type of rifle which is classified as an assault rifle and requires a class 3 firearms license to purchase and are extremely highly regulated. Please stop posting misleading information to sway readers that don’t know better. Aka-“It’s called an assault rifle so it should be banned…”.
    Assault rifles ARE already banned. Defensive carbines are not and should never be.
    I want to see statistics of exactly how many gun crimes are committed with legally purchased firearms. People that went through the background check system which is currently in place. Im willing to bet that the numbers would fall drastically. If a person is willing to commit murder why would any sane person believe that a law banning the sale of ANY firearm stop that potential murderer from accomplishing their goal. They will improvise a gun or use a knife or use a hammer or use a rock or use their bare hands or at the very worst case make an improvised bomb. You surely cannot ban cleaning supplies or pressure cookers.
    The point of a defensive carbine is to defend my family from those insane criminal minded people who would intend to break into my home and possibly do harm to my family. I’ll be damned if my right to defend my home gets taken away. If I have a man break into my home with the intent of raping and possibly killing my daughter the last thing I want to do is call the police and wait five to 30 minutes while I could be doing my duty as her father and my right as an American by defending my family from such attack.

    • Author admin,

      Bob,

      Definition & semantics aside, would you be opposed to defensive carbines being outfitted with mandatory smart gun applications that will only fire when in the hands of their registered user? This is something we are considering encouraging the hedge funds co-invest in.

  3. DT,

    Cerberus, follow through on your promise. Dump that blood-stained stock. This patriot supports the U.S. and its right to regulate civilian militias and gun owners. Second Amendment absolutists are anarchists who agitate for undermining our country’s authority, no matter the cost to the People.

  4. Daily Reader,

    Pursue the criminals, not the law-abiding. We need to clamp down on the bad guys, not the good ones. This protest in Manhattan was not consciousness-raising. It just spread misinformation about how we can reduce violent crime in our beloved boroughs and beyond.

  5. Jason Wise,

    Over 2,000,000 times per year guns are used to SAVE and DEFEND those are fortunate enough to have them in their possession in their time of need. Two million defensive uses versus some eleven thousand homicides is a no brainer. Guns save lives.

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