Newtown Families, Teachers and Advocates Demand Meeting with #1 Investor in Assault Weapons, Urge Cerberus to Live Up to Its Promise to Sell All Gun Holdings

National coalition intensifies pressure on Cerberus Capital Management to stop financing the company that made weapons reportedly used in Newtown and Washington, D.C. shootings

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  September 24, 2013
CONTACT: Aaron Black, 646-421-4045

 

NEW YORK – One week after the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard which left 12 dead, anti-violence advocates and families of victims of the December 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School rallied at the headquarters of Cerberus Capital Management to demand that the hedge fund immediately sell all investments in Freedom Group, the company that manufactured the assault rifle used in the Newtown shooting and the shotgun reportedly used in last week’s shooting in Washington, D.C.

 

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 following the December 14, 2012 shooting.

 

Freedom Group is the leader in marketing high-capacity, military style assault weapons such as 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 at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Freedom Group is also one of the largest donors to the National Rifle Association. According to a new report by the Violence Policy Center (available online at http://www.vpc.org/studies/bloodmoney2.pdf), the firearms industry has donated between $19.3 million and $60.2 million to the NRA since 2005, helping to block the passage of meaningful federal legislation to prevent gun violence.

 

“We know the terrible price of business as usual all too well. Companies like Cerberus profit from the sale of deadly assault weapons and the NRA’s obstruction of commonsense gun control—all while our communities are victimized,” said New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who has successfully pushed hedge funds and other major investors to end their investment in assault weapon manufacturers. “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.”

 

Since Newtown, ten of the largest hedge funds and money managers have completely divested their gun holdings, valued at $170 million. Twelve more firms have scaled back their gun investments by 5.7 million shares—25 percent of their holdings.

 

Today, U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY-13), and Geoffrey Eaton, President, NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch, joined Newtown families to demand a meeting with Cerberus and deliver a letter (available online at https://unloadtheguns.com/) on behalf of more than 30 advocacy groups telling CEO Stephen Feinberg to keep his promise without further delay.

 

“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.”

 

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.

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