This is American life in a gun-soaked culture:
By MARY SANCHEZ
The Kansas City Star
A person can wind up a beneficiary of the heady profits from firearms sales without even knowing it. Consider Missouri Tigers fans.
The University of Missouri system was among the investors flagged in a recent New York Times column about the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management and its formation of Freedom Group. By gobbling up gun manufacturers, Freedom Group was known as the largest firearms maker in America, including Remington, Bushmaster, Marlin and H&R.
The university was ready for the newspapers questions about potentially uncomfortable alliances and the flow of money to firearms. It had already reviewed its portfolios.
Cerberus accounted for about $275,000 of the $450,000 in investments that MU officials had been able to identify as being tied to gunmakers.
Because it manages a wide range of retirement funds and endowments affecting public university systems and state governments, the reach of Cerberus is massive.
But it was the weight of the Cerberus investments held by the $154 billion California State Teachers Retirement System that influenced the firms decision to sell off Freedom Group. Officials with the teachers fund realized that the Bushmaster rifle Adam Lanza used to murder 20 children and seven adults was made by a Freedom Group company.
Reportedly, equity firm executives considered simply making a financial contribution to Newtown, mental health or education to absolve themselves of potential backlash. Wisely, they realized a corporate payout wasnt sufficient, not with a nation grieving.
Instead, Cerberus decided to sever the relationship. The sale isnt complete, so no news yet on who the new owners, and unwitting investors, will be.
MU stresses that the systems ties to firearms is small, about 0.01 percent of its nearly $4 billion in invested assets.
But that leads to the question people must consider: How much of an investment, how close of a connection, does one need to feel any culpability when violence is committed by guns?
Holdings are handled by external managers. Indeed, there are many ways that distance and complicated portfolios enter the equation.
In the last quarter reported, Freedom Groups sales grew 20 percent to $237.9 million. And gun sales have spiked since Newtown.
So, as the saying goes, investors just made a killing.
Likewise, people speak about what we are willing to invest in as a nation. Will the choice be education, character-building or guns?
An emerging lesson of Newtown is that when it comes to guns in America, were all invested somehow.
To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.