NEW YORK (AP) — Cerberus is planning to sell its stake in Freedom Group, maker of the Bushmaster rifle, following the school shootings in Newtown, Conn.
The private equity firm said that the shootings were a watershed event in the national debate on gun control. While it said that it is not its role to take positions or attempt to shape or influence the gun control debate, Cerberus said it can take action by selling its stake in Freedom Group.
"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," the company said in a statement.
On Friday, 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S history. The gunman, Adam Lanza, used a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle during the shootings.
Cerberus said Tuesday that it was deeply saddened by Friday's events. The New York firm said that it will hire a financial adviser to help with the process of selling its Freedom Group interests.
Cerberus affiliates made a financial investment in Freedom Group in 2006. The firm said that Freedom Group does not sell weapons or ammunition directly to consumers, and that it does not believe that "Freedom Group or any single company or individual can prevent senseless violence or the illegal use or procurement of firearms and ammunition."
Cerberus Capital Management makes investments on behalf of clients that include the pension plans of firemen, teachers, policemen, and other municipal workers and unions, endowments and other institutions and individuals.
Money made from the Freedom Group stake sale will be returned to its investors, Cerberus said.