More than two years have passed since that terrible Friday. We remain grief-stricken and heartbroken; but we are also angry. We are angry that weapons engineered to inflict maximum casualties on the battlefield can be purchased by an 18-year-old at his local Walmart, despite the fact that society has judged him not yet mature enough to drink alcohol. We are angry that the process of buying car insurance in this country is more involved than the process of buying a combat rifle. We are angry that firearm dealers sell these weapons every day without any way of knowing whether buyers intend to store their weapons safely. We are angry that Freedom Group calls the Bushmaster AR-15 a “sporting rifle” – while advertising it in explicitly militaristic terms and manufacturing it to accept 30-round magazines.
We are sick of being told that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. There is no question that it takes a deeply disturbed individual to open fire in an elementary school. But there is also no question that it takes a monstrosity of a weapon to murder 20 children and 6 educators in 264 seconds.
Above all, we are sickened that Freedom Group – and its owner, Cerberus Capital Management – profited from the deaths of our children.
Enough is enough. We join those who have called on CalSTRS to withdraw teachers’ dollars from Freedom Group immediately. It is our hope that Stephen Feinberg, the founder and head of Cerberus, takes this opportunity to reexamine his ownership of a company that prides itself on supplying more AR-15s to the public than any other firearm manufacturer. Freedom Group’s bottom line depends on more sales, less regulation, and fewer safety measures – which come at an immeasurable cost to families, schools, and communities across this country.
Indeed, the question is not whether there will be another horrific school shooting, but when. The time for action is now. We applaud the efforts of the California Federation of Teachers and welcome the opportunity to assist you in any way we can.
David and Francine Wheeler, parents of Benjamin Wheeler (age 6)
Ian and Nicole Hockley, parents of Dylan Hockley (age 6)
Mark and Jacqueline Barden, parents of Daniel Barden (age 7)
Veronique and Leonard Pozner, parents of Noah Pozner (age 6)
Neil Heslin, father of Jesse Lewis (age 6)
Gilles Rousseau, father of Lauren Rousseau (age 30)
Donna Soto, mother of Victoria Soto (age 27)
Jillian, Carlee, and Matthew Soto, sisters and brother of Victoria Soto