The Hartford Courant reports that one week before the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, state officials offered the manufacturer of the Bushmaster firearm a development deal to move its corporate headquarters to Connecticut. Law enforcement officials have indicated that the shooter, Adam Lanza, used a Bushmaster AR-15 to kill 26 children and school staff on December 14th of last year.
The Courant states that on December 6th, the office of the commissioner of the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), sent the Freedom Group an offer for a $1 million loan at an annual interest rate of just 2 percent for 10 years, in addition to other incentives. In return the company would move its headquarters, and 25 top executives, from Madison, North Carolina to Stamford, the city where the governor of Connecticut was once mayor.
According to the story, DECD withdrew its offer on December 18th, four days after the massacre. The Courant states that the deal was cancelled because of a “combination of factors, one of them the announcement by the Freedom Group’s owner- the private equity and hedge fund group Cerberus Capital Management- that it was putting the firearms maker up for sale.”
However, Ronald F. Angelo, Jr., deputy commissioner of DECD, said, “It would be naïve to think that…the tragedy that occurred on the 14th of December” wasn’t a big factor.
It was a significant tragedy that was fresh on everybody’s mind. If you take that into account, along with the very unknown structure and unknown condition of the Freedom Group because of the sale of that entity by its parents, it’s too much of an unknown, too much of an unpredictable [situation].
Freedom Group is a holding company for the manufacturers of firearms brands such as Bushmaster and Remington Arms.
Since the Newtown shooting, Connecticut’s Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-WFP) has led a strong campaign for gun control measures, despite the fact that the state already had some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation. The Democrat-run legislature is poised to pass more gun control legislation in the near future.
The Courant reports, however, that, prior to the shooting tragedy, Malloy’s administration viewed Freedom Group as a “corporate plum worth attracting to the city where the governor was mayor for 14 years.”
On behalf of DECD commissioner Catherine Smith, on December 6th, Angelo wrote, “The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) is pleased to provide this revised letter of intent…in support of the Freedom Group’s…$2,250,000 Headquarters project in Stamford, Connecticut.”
“One of Governor Malloy’s top priorities is to create a business-friendly environment that attracts investment, spurs job growth and helps industries become more competitive in the global marketplace, ” Angelo wrote to Stephen Jackson, an executive for the Freedom Group.
On December 18th, however, Angelo wrote to Jackson, “This letter provides official notice that [DECD’s] offer of financial assistance, as outlined in our letter of intent dated December 6, 2012, is hereby withdrawn. The department will not be supporting the Freedom Group’s proposed project.”