By Richard Asinof
BOSTON – Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity firm in New York City that owns the for-profit Steward Health Care network of 11 hospitals in Massachusetts, announced on Dec. 18 that it had decided to sell its Freedom Group division, the manufacturer of the assault weapon used in the elementary school killings Newtown, Conn.
Freedom Group, based in Madison, N.C., is the nation’s largest seller of firearms and the number two seller of ammunition. In 2011, it sold more than 1 million long guns and 2 billion rounds of ammunition that generated $775 million in sales, according to its annual report.
The move to sell Freedom Group was made after the California State Teachers Retirement System said that it was reviewing its $500 million investment commitment to Cerberus because of the firm’s stake in Freedom Group.
Dr. Robert D. Sege, director of ambulatory pediatrics at Boston Medical Center and coauthor of a policy statement on gun control by the American Academy of Pediatrics, questioned the intent of the private equity firm, according to The Boston Globe. “At the very least, it calls into the question the overall aims of Cerberus Capital [Management],” Sege said.
John Rosenthal, a Boston real estate developer and co-founded of Stop Handgun Violence, asked: “How can you promote good health and unrestricted access to deadly weapons at the same time?”