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Shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut - arms firms and investment in the arms industry

On 14 December 2012, Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, USA.

The gun that he used was reportedly manufactured by Bushmaster, owned by Freedom Group, a holding company established by the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management.  Freedom Group owns many arms firms in addition to Bushmaster.  Following the shooting, there were calls for investors, which include teachers' retirement funds, to either divest from Cerberus or push the company to reform its approach to the gun industry.  On Monday 17 December, California State Teachers Retirement System said that it was examining its $751.4 million investment in Cerberus "to determine how best to move forward given the tragic events of last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut".  On Tuesday 15 December, Cerberus announced that it would sell its stake in Freedom Group.

Below is coverage in reverse chronological order of the dimensions of the tragedy relating to the manufacture and sale of weapons, and investment in them.

"Let’s stop investing our retirement funds in lethal weapons," Adam Kanzer, Managing Director and General Counsel of Domini Social Investments, in Reuters Great Debate, 9 Jan 2012

"Cerberus divestment is a loss, not a win," Christine Bader, in Huffington Post, 19 Dec 2012

"Cerberus’ Exit From the Gun Industry Shows How Public Pressure Can Shame Companies To Do Right," Eliot Spitzer, in Slate, 18 Dec 2012

"Petition: Walmart: Stop Selling and Advertising Assault Weapons in Your Stores!", Change.org

"Reaction to Newtown Shootings Spreads to Corporate America," New York Times, 18 Dec

"Dick's Sporting Goods suspends some rifle sales", USA Today, Associated Press, 18 Dec 2012

"Newtown Shooting: Investment Firm Drops Stake in Bushmaster Group", Brian Ross, Ned Berkowitz, Angela Hill, ABC News

"Gun Company Investors Include Teachers' Retirement Funds," Chris Kirkham, Huffington Post, 17 Dec 2012 (in addition to the firms mentioned above, refers to arms firms Sturm, Ruger & Co., and Smith & Wesson Holding Corp.; and to investors Black Rock, New York State Teachers' Retirement System, Teacher Retirement System of Texas, Vanguard)

"It’s Time To Target Cerberus, the Private-Equity Firm That Dominates the Gun Industry", Eliot Spitzer, former governor of the state of New York, in Slate, 17 Dec 2012

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Article
9 January 2013

Let’s stop investing our retirement funds in lethal weapons

Author: Adam Kanzer, Managing Director and General Counsel of Domini Social Investments, in Reuters Great Debate

Unlike other national tragedies fueled in part by investment decisions – the BP disaster immediately comes to mind – the Newtown massacre has prompted an important and overdue debate about the role of investment in our society. Your IRA is at the...

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