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Dick's sports store suspends gun sales as NRA responds to massacre

By David Self Newlin  |  Posted Dec 18th, 2012 @ 6:34pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — In the wake of the horrifying scene that played out Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary school, it seems that many have been overwhelmed by the tragedy.

As the nation struggles to determine how it should respond, gun control is at the top of everyone's list, whether they want more of it or less of it.

Dicks Sporting Goods suspends some gun sales

Many are already taking action, without waiting for the debate to be settled, such as Dick's Sporting Goods. The chain has suspended sales of "modern rifles" in all of its stores nationwide, though it has not specified for how long it will do so and what specific models it will suspend.

"Out of respect for the victims and their families, during this time of national mourning we have removed all guns from sale and from display in our store nearest to Newtown and suspended the sale of modern sporting rifles in all of our stores chainwide," the store said in a statement released on its website.

Cerberus sells gun shares

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Cerberus, a private equity firm that deals in retirement plans for public employees, intends to sell off all its shares in the Freedom Group, which owns Bushmaster, the company that made the AR-15 that Adam Lanza used in the Sandy Hook massacre. The Freedom Group also owns Remington and other gun manufacturers.

Selling those shares is no small thing, considering that Cerberus has a 95 percent stake in the Freedom Group.

It doesn't seem that Cerberus is indicating that they back gun control so much as they have been forced into this position. They say it's all about smart investment. Monday, the California State Teachers Retirement System announced that it may rethink its $500 million stake in Cerberus due to their support of the Freedom Group. That likely sent a pretty clear signal.

"Our role is to make investments on behalf of our clients who are comprised of the pension plans of firemen, teachers, policemen and other municipal workers and unions, endowments, and other institutions and individuals," Cerberus said in a statement. It is not our role to take positions, or attempt to shape or influence the gun control policy debate. That is the job of our federal and state legislators."

They're not the only ones getting out of the game. As a result of sell-offs, Shares of Sturm, Ruger & Co. dropped more than 5 percent to $41.55 in morning trading Tuesday. Shares of Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. fell more than 9 percent to $7.86.

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Even some Republicans are thinking about gun control

Both Republicans and formerly pro-gun Democrats have indicated they're willing to consider some form of gun control in order to curb violence like that seen in Newtown.

"Put guns on the table, also put video games on the table, put mental health on the table," said Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., after a closed-door meeting of top GOP members.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, also suggested a blue-ribbon commission on the issue, but stressed that "it certainly can't be a debate just about guns. There must also be a serious and thoughtful discussion on mental health issues."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who has supported gun rights in the past, said "a thoughtful debate about how to change laws" is coming soon.

NRA responds to shooting after short media blackout

Similar to the response that followed the Aurora massacre at a movie theatre this July, the NRA said nothing publicly for a short time about the mass shooting in Newtown. It did not tweet, deactivated its Facebook page and did not posted anything on its website until it issued a statement Tuesday afternoon. The group said they wished to allow time for grieving for those affected by the tragedy.

The NRA was"shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders," it said. They also pledged to "help to make sure this never happens again."

They also said a press conference would be held Friday.

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After the shooting in Aurora, the group did not tweet for 10 days, but did have some communication via other outlets.

The group's critics, however, have been anything but silent. Demonstrations have been held against the NRA in several cities, and Twitter has been buzzing with hashtags like NoWayNRA and StandDownNRA.

Fox News bans talk of gun control

According to New York Magazine, David Clark, a producer in charge of weekends at Fox News, mandated that the network not talk about gun control on air (though there was some discussion of it on Fox News Sunday).

Nevertheless, Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch has been defending gun control on Twitter, and called for a ban on automatic weapons in the U.S., even though automatic weapons are already banned and Lanza used a semi-automatic rifle.

"Terrible news today. When will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons? As in Oz after similar tragedy," he said on Twitter, referring to a ban on automatic weapons after a similar massacre in Australia in 1996.

Texas legislator defends concealed carry permits for teachers in schools

Texas state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, has said that he intends to file legislation to allow teachers to carry concealed weapons in the classroom, with approval from the district, and he has done so specifically in response to the Newtown massacre.

"Unfortunately, law enforcement personnel cannot be everywhere at all times," Villalba said in a statement. "We need to talk very frankly about how we can protect our children if the unthinkable should occur."

One district already allows teachers to carry concealed weapons: The Harrold Independent School District in northern Texas. It instituted what it called the "Guardian Plan" in 2007 after the Virginia Tech massacre. That district's policy is currently getting a lot of attention around the state and the world.

Contributing: Richard Piatt and Associated Press

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