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.

By Aimee Picchi Jun 17, 2013 12:28PM

Firearms Training Unit Detective Barbara J. Mattson of the Connecticut State Police holds up a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, on Jan. 28, 2013 (© Jessica Hil/AP)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.”


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505Comments
Jun 17, 2013 12:56PM
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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.

Jun 17, 2013 1:07PM
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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.

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What reasoning is behind punishing 99.999% of Americans for the Crimes of the 0.001%.   It would be far cheaper to punish those doing the crimes.
Jun 17, 2013 1:55PM
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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.

Jun 17, 2013 2:13PM
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Thye Bushmaster indeed was not used in the killings.  Why not just enforce the laws we already have; gee what a thought!

Jun 17, 2013 1:59PM
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The outrage is the trampling of our Constituiton by mediocre media pundents who have never owned, shot, loaded, cleaned, or handled a firearm.
Jun 17, 2013 2:12PM
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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...

 

Jun 17, 2013 2:23PM
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What happened in Newtown was beyond terrible, yet to blame the guns is like blaming the car instead of the driver for a person being killed in a drunk driving accident.  I personally don't think its right to ban guns from law-abiding citizens, when its either criminals or wackjobs who kill with them. They don't obey laws.
Jun 17, 2013 2:13PM
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We cannot live without our guns in rural America.  The liberal urban dwellers need to back off!
Jun 17, 2013 2:44PM
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What he said was completely and absolutely correct. The "furor" and "outrage" is being generated by the ridiculous media and MORONS who refuse to learn the facts because they have their own totally ignorant agenda.
Jun 17, 2013 1:03PM
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Well, this is certainly a callous comment considering the circumstance, but the bottom line is, it's true.
Jun 17, 2013 2:46PM
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Funny th coroner's report said that all the victims were shot with a 9 MM handgun. I guess the  media has got it wrong and will not correct it's misstatements.
Jun 17, 2013 2:42PM
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Take away all automobiles because a few drive drunk
Jun 17, 2013 2:11PM
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There seems to be a great divide between those of you that have chosen to live in the urban centers and the rest of us.  Let me find some common ground.  Here is my shot.  Let's agree that residents of New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle should not have a right to own and possess a firearm.  Does that solve the great gun ownership debate?
Jun 17, 2013 1:56PM
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alchohol, cigerettes, and automobiles kill thousands for Americans, there are 35,000 traffic deaths in this country every year. Yes, Newtown was tragic, but we cannot focus on 'things', how do we fix the people problems?  Don't a lot of the guns that are used to kill people by the mentally ill often belong to a parent?  So another big fix that often won't work.  And we can't start locking everyone up. Maybe we need to work on creating a kinder, gentler, less competive society, some how, some way.  We don't need to beat up gun makers other than we shouldn't be selling automatic weapons available to everyone, we don't want our police to be out-gunned. 
Jun 17, 2013 3:07PM
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When there is a bombing, we blame the bomber. When there's a drunk-driving accident, we blame the driver. So why, when there's a shooting, do we blame the gun?
Jun 17, 2013 2:57PM
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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.

Jun 17, 2013 2:47PM
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A background check wouldn;t have stopped this guy. He stole the guns and then killed the owner.  Of course that happened to be his mom who should have had the guns locked in a safe with the exception of a personal protection weapon which most likely wouldn't have been the .223.  In any event these comments are dead on.  Take a full grown adult bent on mayhem and if he walks onto a school yard with a bat, knife, chainsaw, or even his bare hands - he will be able to kill and maim a lot of folks.  Or how about a guy with a tank of Anhydrous  - many could be killed.  This debate is tired.  Evil will always exist.
Jun 17, 2013 3:04PM
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I'm sick of hearing about Newtown. It started out all bout the victims, which is fine.....now the relatives are standing in their kids blood to push anti-gun legislations

 

Ct was suckered into new gun laws and now they have 3 cities with the highest crimes....New haven, Bpt and Hartford. Governors from other states are here persuaded the gun companies into leaving CT for Texas and other states........and they will leave, creating more unemployment for CT

 

So the Gov and all his cronies were DEAD WRONG and they'll be accounted for come election day.....B'BYE DEMOCRATS !!!

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