Nine months ago, following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management made a promise to sell a company they own that manufactures Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifles.
The company, Freedom Group, made the same gun that Adam Lanza used to murder 26 people, including 20 children, in December of last year at Sandy Hook. In the midst of the terrible tragedy, Cerberus vowed to sell Freedom Group, but as of recently, they have yet to do so. Nine months later, supporters and members of the Newtown Action Alliance decided that enough was enough, and went to Cerberus headquarters in New York City to demand immediate action.
Close to 50 people showed up to the offices in Midtown in the hopes of delivering a letter to Cerberus, but according to reports, were not allowed to come inside.
“I’m here to try to remind Cerberus the promise they made and that they’re letting my son Jesse down,” said Neil Heslin, the father of one of the murdered children. “There was a promise made then by Cerberus to sell their interest in Bushmaster.”
The letter to Cerberus, delivered by Rep. Charles Rangel of New York and signed by a number of outspoken groups, demands that the firm immediately make good on their word and honor the memory of those killed in the massacre last year.
“It has now been more than nine months since this announcement and Cerberus Capital Management has not sold a single penny of its investment in Freedom Group,” reads the letter. “This is inexcusable and these delays can no longer be tolerated. The horrific mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut — in which the shooter used a Bushmaster XM-15 assault rifle manufactured by Freedom Group — was a wake-up call for our nation, and underscored a growing epidemic of gun violence that now kills more than 31,000 Americans each year.”
The original statement made by Cerberus, in which they promised to sell their stake in Bushmaster assault rifle manufacturer Freedom Group, made clear their reasons for this decision.
“Accordingly, we have determined to immediately engage in a formal process to sell our investment in Freedom Group,” the statement reads. “We will retain a financial advisor to design and execute a process to sell our interests in Freedom Group, and we will then return that capital to our investors. 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.”
Now, Newtown Action Alliance and a number of other organizations are giving Cerberus Capital Management one last chance to fulfill their promise.
“We urge you to act quickly in the best interests of our nation,” the letter to Cerberus concludes, “and wash your hands of this destructive industry in the next 30 days.”