Gunmaker's Newtown comments spark outrage
The CEO of Freedom Group, the maker of Bushmaster rifles, finally speaks about the Connecticut massacre and only adds to the controversy.
Freedom Group chief executive George Kollitides has kept a low profile since the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre, in which 20 young children and six teachers were killed by a gunman using one of his company's Bushmaster rifles (pictured).
Six months after Adam Lanza opened fire on the school with one of Freedom's semiautomatics, Kollitides is commenting on the attack. But rather than calming any anti-gun rhetoric, he has whipped up a backlash over his take on the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings.
"It's very easy to blame an inanimate object. Any kind of instrument in the wrong hands can be put to evil use. This comes down to intent -- criminal behavior, accountability and responsibility," Kollitides told the Washington Times.
In his view, he added, "only two things could have potentially stopped (Lanza): his mother locking up her guns and an armed guard. Even then, he could have driven his stolen car into a playground full of kids."
Kollitides' comments aren't going over well with many people, given the fierce debate over gun rights sparked by the Newtown massacre. His stance seems to echo the gun-rights argument that "guns don't kill people, people kill people," with the implication that taking away firearms won't work if people are determined to kill others.
Outrage spilled over on Twitter and in the comments sections of several news sites, with one person tweeting, "How about better background checks so the inanimate objects don't fall into the wrong hands?" Another wrote that Kollitides "shouldda stayed silent."
Despite the furor, Kollitides failed to address some pressing business issues surrounding Freedom, which is the biggest privately owned gun and ammunition maker. Just days after the Newtown massacre, owner Cerberus Capital put the gun giant up for sale.
Still, demand for Freedom's products -- made under brand names including Remington, Marlin and AAC -- is booming. In the first quarter of 2013, sales in its firearms segment jumped by more than 50%. Other gunmakers have seen similar spikes in demand, with Smith & Wesson (SWHC) on Thursday saying it expects a 43% jump in sales for its fiscal year.
But Kollitides didn't address Freedom's future. Cerberus owner Stephen A. Feinberg is reportedly near a deal to buy the company, according to Talking Points Memo. Investment firm Lazard (LAZ) has been taking bids for Freedom, the Washington Times notes.
One point about Freedom's future that Kollitides was clear about: Bushmaster's name. He said the company won't change it, despite the controversy.
Freedom's goal, he said, is "to make sure we make a quality product, a safe product, it doesn’t misfire, it doesn’t fall apart.”
Since the killings were done with two semi-automatic HANDGUNS, I don't see what the fuss is about. The Bushmaster rifle was in Lanza's trunk, but was never used. But of course, it better fits the media's agenda to say he used an "assault rifle."
Also, I agree with Mr. Kollitides regarding personal responsibility. None of my guns have ever killed anyone. Nor will they, unless I make a conscious decision use them to do so.
It's easier (and makes better headlines) to blame an inanimate object than to examine the failure of our mental health care system.
First what he said was entirely accurate. Second, it doesn't matter- the 2nd Amendment is clear, if you don't like it tough. I don't like how many people use their 1st Amendment rights, that's the cost of a (allegedly) free society. Stop trying to punish me for the actions of others.
Load gun, place on ground and walk away. You'll be waiting a long time for it to kill somebody unless someone picks it up an uses it. Is that simple enough for you anti-gun folks ?
Guns don't kill people, people kill people is a valid statement.
Thye Bushmaster indeed was not used in the killings. Why not just enforce the laws we already have; gee what a thought!
I guess some people just don't want simple facts. They'd probably rather have someone (such as a major media outlet) blow smoke up their pipe.
Kollitides just stated some obvious facts.
If you don't like it, go find your own fantasy land...
the guy in Colorado durin batman Is pleading insanity.
newtown, lanza was a crazy...
columbine? two more crazys.
the VA tech shooter/ another crazy.
dorner, the ex cop in LA... crazy
the newest guy in santa monica (WHERE HIS WEAPON WAS ILLEGAL) another crazy.
loughtner who shot up the congresswomen? crazy
MORAL TO THE STORY? the crazys are getting guns and we refuse to talk about crazy people in the US. where is the uproar about the crazies killing people?
chigaco has the worst murder rap sheet the last 2 years running and they have the strictest gun laws around. laws don't save people... enforcement of laws saves people. enforce what we got.
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