Corporate America Bowing Down To Anti Bill Of Rights Zealots
TWG: Friends, don’t give your money to ANY corporation or organization that bows down to the anti-Second Amendment gun ban zealots. Before you shop somewhere, PLEASE do your homework and find out if they are for or against our Constitution and Bill Of Rights.
Reaction to Newtown Shootings Spreads to Corporate AmericaBy MICHAEL D. SHEAR and ADAM NAGOURNEY
The reaction to the Newtown shootings spread to corporate America and to California on Tuesday, as a private equity firm said it would immediately sell the company that made the assault-style rifle used in shootings, while California lawmakers announced an effort to regulate the sale of ammunition more tightly.
The legislation, being introduced by State Senator Kevin de León, a Democrat, would require anyone looking to buy ammunition for any kind of weapon to undergo a background check and obtain a one-year permit costing $50. The legislation would also ban the sale of ammunition in California by mail, requiring that all transactions be done in person.
Democrats said that given the party’s increasingly powerful control of the Legislature – where they now control two-thirds of the seats, in both the Assembly and Senate – they were confident that the legislation could pass swiftly and hoped it would set a model for other states around the country.
In announcing the sale of the gun manufacturer, the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management made clear that the decision stemmed from the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newton, Conn. “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,” Cerberus said in a news release.
The firm said it planned to sell the Freedom Group, which makes the .223 Bushmaster rifle used in the massacre. Cerberus acquired Bushmaster in 2006, later merging it with other gun companies to create the Freedom Group.
Tuesday’s announcement follows a statement from the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, a large pension fund, that it was reviewing its investment in Cerberus in light of the firm’s holding in the Freedom Group.
Cerberus is one of several private equity firms that have holdings in gun manufacturers. Colt Defense, which was spun out of the maker of the .44-40 Colt revolver, is jointly owned by Sciens Capital Management, a fund advised by the Blackstone Group and another fund operated by Credit Suisse.
Separately, Dick’s Sporting Goods, a chain with more than 500 stores, said in a statement on its Web site that it was stopping all sales and displays of guns at its store closest to Newtown, and is temporarily ceasing sales of modern rifles nationwide.
A Dick’s spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment on Tuesday.
Walmart.com removed its information page on the Bushmaster .223, a semiautomatic model said to be used by the Newtown gunman, Adam Lanza. And Bass Pro Shop was not listing information about Bushmaster-brand guns on its Web site, though it had promoted the brand in a Black Friday special.
Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, said it removed the information page on Bushmaster “in light of the tragic events.” However, it will continue to sell the Bushmaster and said it had made no changes to its sales policies on guns and ammunition.
A spokesman, David Tovar, said that the company remained “dedicated to the safe and responsible sale of firearms in areas of the country where they are sold,” and that the company “had not made any changes to the assortment of guns we sell in select stores.”
Recently, Walmart has been increasing its emphasis on gun sales, after a five-year period where it had backed away from them. In 2006, the company stopped selling guns in most of its United States stores, saying there was little customer demand for the items.
But in 2011, it reversed that decision, saying it wanted to appeal to hunting enthusiasts, and began selling guns at more than half of its stores.
Mr. Tovar noted that the company was a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and as part of that, takes video recordings of gun sales, conducts background checks on employees selling guns, and takes other steps to help keep guns away from criminals.
Still, Jared Lee Loughner, who shot Gabrielle Giffords and other Arizona residents last year, bought ammunition for a Glock gun at a Walmart the morning of the shooting.
Around the country, gun-control advocates continued on Tuesday to seize on public grief and anger about Friday’s massacre of 20 young children to insist on quick, broad action by President Obama and Congress to regulate firearms, confront mental illness and address violence in the media and video games.
Residents of Newtown, where a young man killed 26 people at the elementary School, as well as his mother and himself, announced the formation of a new group called Newtown United, focused on turning the tragedy in their community into political pressure to confront the country’s gun culture.
“I would like, when you think of Sandy Hook, you think, ‘Oh, that’s where they banned assault weapons,’ ” John Neuhoff, a Newtown resident, told Reuters. “If we can ban fireworks, we should be able to ban assault weapons.”
Four days after the shootings, the gun-control debate is intensifying even as the residents of Newtown slowly carry on with the grim task of burying their loved ones. Funerals for the victims of the shooting are being held throughout the week, ahead of the Christmas holiday next Tuesday.
At the same time, some gun-rights advocates said that they would resist new limits on firearms and two of the nation’s Republican governors said the Connecticut shootings should not curtail the rights of their citizens to carry concealed weapons.
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas told a Tea Party group on Monday that he opposed “knee-jerk reaction from Washington, D.C.” in the wake of the shootings and said that schoolteachers and administrators should be allowed to carry concealed weapons, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia, taking questions at WTOP, said he was cautious about any regulatory changes. “A lot of people are still stunned, like I am. Which is why I am not jumping to any policy changes,” he said. “The key is don’t overreact, don’t react when you’re emotional,” he said when asked about allowing school faculty to be armed.
“I know there has been a knee-jerk reaction against that,” he said. “But I think we should have a discussion about that. If someone had been armed, there would have been an opportunity to stop the person from coming into the school.” But he said he hoped there would not be a need for armed guards at schools.
In Ohio, Gov. John R. Kasich said he still intended to sign a bill allowing guns in the parking garages of the State Capitol building, saying in a statement to The Cleveland Plain Dealer that he is “a Second Amendment supporter and that’s not going change.”
“There are a range of issues at play here involving mental health, school security and a culture that at times fails to reject the glorification of violence that can desensitize us to the sanctity and majesty of life,” Mr. Kasich told the paper. “Going forward, we need to pay close attention to what the experts conclude from this incident in order to see if there are lessons to be learned and applied here in Ohio.”
The nation’s largest gun rights organization — the National Rifle Association — remained largely silent Tuesday even as some gun-right advocates began speaking up against new gun regulations.
“Automobiles kill more people on our streets than guns do,” Philip Van Cleave, the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, said on CNN’s “Piers Morgan” show Monday night. “This was a maniac in a state that had a lot of gun control.”
Still, the events in Newtown appear to have energized gun-control advocates who view the somber aftermath of the tragedy as an opportunity — but only if change comes quickly, before the memory of the children and their teachers fades.
In California, aides to Mr. de León said that the idea behind his legislation was to try to slow the distribution of ammunition, given how many weapons are already in circulation.
Still, an earlier effort to restrict ammunition sales in the state ran into obstacles. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former Republican governor, signed a similar measure that would apply only to handguns, in effort to crack down on gangs. The National Rifle Association challenged the legislation in court, and a Superior Court judge ruled that the definition of handgun ammunition was unconstitutionally vague.
Mr. de León said that he was seeking to address those legal concerns by introducing legislation that would apply to all types of ammunition. “It continues to be easier in California to purchase handgun ammunition than it is a packet of cigarettes or allergy medicine,” the sponsors of the bill said in a memorandum released today.
Elsewhere, Elie Wiesel, a holocaust survivor and winner of the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize, wrote that the killings of the children in Connecticut should prompt America to confront its failures when it comes to accepting a culture of violence.
“If this tragedy does not produce universal gun control, what can and what will?” Mr. Wiesel wrote. “What else do we need for preventing further horrors such as this?”
On the White House Web site, a petition calling for the immediate introduction of gun-control legislation had gathered 173,000 signatures by Tuesday morning. The petition, which is on a page that lets people post petitions, calls for “a set of laws that regulates how a citizen obtains a gun.”
In Washington, another group is collecting signatures for a separate petition from people who will promise to call the White House and their member of Congress every month until new laws are passed. The Web site — gunpromise.com — went live Monday evening.
Late Monday night, David Letterman, the comedic host of CBS’s “Late Show” offered a rare, serious commentary, noting that there have been 70 school shootings since 1994. Mr. Letterman said he was encouraged by Mr. Obama’s speech at Sunday’s memorial that he is poised to take action.
“So right there, I feel better,” Mr. Letterman said. “It can’t be an ‘excuse for inaction.’ That means he’s committed. He is going on the record. Some kind of action.”
The calls for action follow Monday’s reversals by some Democratic lawmakers who have for years been opposed to stricter gun rules. But Mr. Obama and some lawmakers continue to be vague about what specific new laws or regulations they might support in the weeks and months ahead.
In a statement, Heidi Heitkamp, the Democratic senator-elect from North Dakota, said only that she would “give thoughtful and studied consideration” to any proposals for new laws about mental health and guns in the country.
“Many ideas will be put forth, and I will give thoughtful and studied consideration to any legislation that may arise as result of this tragedy,” Ms. Heitkamp said. “As always, I will listen closely to North Dakotans and seek their input on any possible changes to current law.”
Late Monday evening, David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, e-mailed millions of people on the president’s campaign database, urging them to watch a video of the president’s speech at the memorial service Sunday.
“We must also, as the president urged, consider how each of us can play a part in making our country worthy of the memory of those little children,” Mr. Axelrod said.
But the e-mail, which links to a page at the president’s campaign Web site, does not offer any specifics for the president’s supporters. Mr. Axelrod remains as vague about the need for action as the president’s spokesman, Jay Carney, was on Monday.
Stephanie Clifford, Mark Scott, John H. Cushman Jr. contributed reporting.