Terms of gun debate have changed

Cerebrus capital, which owns the company that enabled the most recent predictably tragic consequence of military-grade weapons sales to the public, will sell Freedom Group. NYT:

The private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management said on Tuesday that it would sell its investment in the gunmaker Freedom Group in response to the school shootings last week in Connecticut.

Cerberus acquired Bushmaster — the manufacturer of the rifle used by the gunman in the Newtown attacks that killed 27 people, including 20 schoolchildren — in 2006.

There will be more massacres like Friday’s, as sure as shooting, until  these weapons are no longer owned by the public. A consequence of the former will be ever-greater activism against gun manufacturers. A consequence of the latter will be reduced sales. Both are bad for business. Smart move: Cerebrus.

The larger point, however, is that the preventable massacre of 20 children and their teachers has changed the terms of the gun debate. Before it was civil libertarian gun owners versus authoritarian regulators. Now it is enablers of child murder against everyone else. Newtown’s atrocity was committed with military weaponry that should not be allowed in the general population.

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14 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I tend to agree

    I have been surprised, pleasantly so, by the way so many people I never expected to come around have decided this kind of tragedy really is not acceptable. When Joe Manchin and Joe Scarborough agree on television that there’s plenty of room to regulate assault weapons without impinging on the legitimate right of hunters, there’s the real chance of progress.

    I hope so.

    The fact that Adam Lanza didn’t buy the guns, his mother did, shows me that having purchase restrictions for the mentally ill, etc., is not sufficient. There’s no reason why any civilian needs to own this type of weapon. It won’t stop all killings but it can stop many of these huge and indiscriminate slaughters.

  2. Cerberus is a cynical and opportunistic outfit

    As Beth Healy & Casey Ross report in the Globe this morning (p. A6), Cerberus is also the company that bought St. Elizabeth’s and the Carney hospitals from Caritas Christi in 2010 — in part, I would add, by strong-arming local officials into signing on under threat of closure — and now appear to be reneging on their promise to maintain their roles as full community institutions.

    They also report that Freedom Group is an aggressive player in the gun lobby.

  3. "A consequence of the latter will be reduced sales"

    The unfortunate truth of the matter is that after every one of these tragedies, sales of these guns go up, not down. My cynical guess is that sales of the Bushmaster will go through the roof the second it looks like restrictions might be in the future if they haven’t already.

    • "sales of the Bushmaster will go through the roof"

      A former ATF guy on NPR the other day predicted the same thing, and that may well be right. However, it’s a short-term cost that may regrettably have to be borne in order to achieve a longer-term benefit.

      I also think that reconsidering the usual line that we are only banning prospective purchases and grandfathering every gun that’s already out there should be on the table. You can’t simply take people’s guns away … but you can offer a generous buy-back, and if that’s not enough, you can force one.

      • Don't get me wrong

        I don’t mean that as an excuse for inaction. I heard the same NPR report yesterday on the way home and recall similar spikes of gun sales both after previous massacres and each of Obama’s presidential victories.

        • I'm making a longer-term argument

          In the short term you may be right, but in the longer term, as these massacres continue and people are eventually forced to acknowledge that we are not talking about flintlock muskets any more, or even hunting weapons, commercial sales will no longer be tolerated. Cigarette companies are a good example: their market valuations are low compared to their sales. Selling anti-social products is bad business over the long term.

          • I hope you're right

            But even in the long term it’s hard to imagine that these ‘products’ will no longer be made while the US military and increasingly militarized police departments continue to be a built-in market for them. That’s something that the cigarette companies don’t have.

            • Oh, they will be made

              And it is a good thing for our military and police to have them. The problem is having them in the general population where homicidal maniacs can use them to slaughter first graders.

    • "sales of these guns go up, not down"

      And right on cue: “Gun sales surge after Connecticut massacre.”

  4. Regarding purchase numbers rising...

    …I don’t know if they at all balance out, but I’ve also heard reports of people getting rid of their weapons in response to this event.

    • don't think they would balance out...

      Unless the people getting rid of their weapon and having it distroyed, it is a net zero. They may get rid of it, but someone is purchasing it.

      A modern AK15 will sell new for about $800, I doubt most owners will just distroy or turn in the weapon when they can sell it.

      • We can change that if we choose

        We start by making possession of these weapons a mark of shame, like possession of child pornography. We accompany that by making them illegal with severe penalties — that are enforced — for violations. We make it impossible to acquire the high-capacity clips, drums, and magazines that enable their operation. We follow the example of Australia, and shift our cultural dialog to talk about “shooters” and “people”.

        We make having any association with this technology a mark of shame. We make being associated with the NRA (as it is currently constituted) political suicide, akin to membership in the KKK or neo-Nazi organizations.

        We stop this insanity.

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Fri 28 Apr 9:32 PM