Makers of killer gun will sell company


The reaction to the Newtown shootings spread to corporate America and California Tuesday, as a private equity firm said it would immediately sell the company that made the assault-style rifle used in shootings, while California lawmakers announced an attempt to regulate the sale of ammunition more tightly.

The legislation, being introduced by state Senator Kevin de Leon, a Democrat, would require anyone looking to purchase ammunition for any kind of weapon to undergo a background check and obtain a one-year permit costing $50. The legislation would also ban sale of ammunition in California by mail, requiring that all transactions be done in person.

In announcing the sale of the gun manufacturer, private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management made clear that the decision stemmed from the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newton, Conn. "It is apparent that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level," Cerberus said.

The firm said it planned to sell Freedom Group, which makes the .223 Bushmaster rifle used in the massacre.

Meanwhile, demonstrating rapidly shifting attitudes toward gun control after the shooting, many pro-gun Congressional Democrats including Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader and a longstanding gun rights supporter signaled an openness Monday to new restrictions on guns.

White House officials remained vague and non-committal about how President Obama would translate into action his soaring rhetoric Sunday in Newtown, when he appeared to presage an effort to curb access to guns. However, many Democrats, including several from conservative states, said Congress should take up the issue next year, and one Senate chairman promised hearings.

Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, an advocate of gun rights who drew attention in 2010 by running a commercial that showed him firing a rifle into a piece of legislation serving as a target, said "everything should be on the table" as gun control is debated in the coming weeks and months.

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