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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

After the Sandy Hook massacre five years ago, I wrote about how the weapons used had been produced by Freedom Group, a massive firearms conglomerate owned by Cerberus Capital Management. Among the indirect owners were teacher pension plans, and their outrage ultimately caused Cerberus to try selling Freedom Group. When that failed — namely because Cerberus had formed a company too big to buy and too integrated to split — it bought out Freedom Group (since renamed Remington) shares from limited partners who wanted to divest.

Bottom line: We do not yet have official word on what the deranged Las Vegas murderer used to commit his atrocities on Sunday night. But there is a very good chance that private equity money is again involved, and some institutional investors will again reconsider their commitments.

Some scene photos yesterday appeared to show AR-15 rifles, popular makers of which include Remington (still owned by Cerberus) and Stag Arms (owned by White Wolf Capital). But the photos also showed that the rifles appeared to be modified with two things:

  1. The first was a "bump stock," which basically helps someone increase the speed of their trigger finger. The primary maker is a company called Slide Fire, and its bump stocks are sold by retailer like Cabela's, which was recently purchased by Bass Pro Shops (which last year raised $2.4 billion from Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking and Pamplona Capital Management).
  2. The second was what TMZ identified high-capacity magazine made by Surefire, which about a decade ago raised private equity funding from Goldman Sachs and Broadsword Partners.

I got no comment from Surefire, Slide Fire, Pamplona, Bass Pro Shops or Broadsword, but a Goldman Sachs spokesman said the following about its Surefire investment:

"We are horrified by what has happened in Las Vegas. We are aware of allegations that SureFire magazines were used in the Las Vegas shootings but we cannot confirm the accuracy of such reports. We invested in SureFire ten years ago because it was selling world-leading illumination technology to military and law enforcement. Against our advice, the company moved into other products beyond lighting, including magazines. We stepped down from the board five years ago after they ignored our advice on this change in strategy and have tried to sell our stake repeatedly without success. We plan to exit this investment as soon as possible."

Go deeper

18 mins ago - World

Biden to warn Putin U.S. will add troops in Eastern Europe if Russia invades Ukraine

Putin meets Biden in Geneva. Photo: Peter Klaunzer - Pool/Keystone via Getty

President Biden will warn Russian President Vladimir Putin when they speak on Tuesday that if Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. is prepared to increase its troop presence, capabilities and military exercises on NATO's "eastern flank," a senior administration official told reporters.

Why it matters: The administration believes it's increasingly likely that Putin will order an invasion.

50 mins ago - World

U.S. announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

An Olympic-themed sculpture in Beijing on Dec. 1. Photo: Hou Yu/China News Service via Getty Images

The U.S. announced Monday that it will not send officials to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Why it matters: The diplomatic boycott — which won't prevent American athletes from competing — marks a major escalation between the U.S. and China amid already heightened tensions over the CCP's treatment of Muslim minorities, military threats to Taiwan and economic tariffs.

Stuck jet stream brings blowtorch December in Lower 48, frigid Alaska

Short-term climate outlook for Dec. 13-19, 2021, from the Climate Prediction Center at NOAA. (NOAA/CPC)

The Lower 48 states have seen record-shattering warmth so far this December, with temperatures running as high as 35°F above average for this time of year. The warmth has been so pronounced that during the weekend, brush fires broke out in a snowless, unusually mild Denver metro area.

The big picture: The jet stream, which is a river of air that rides at about 30,000 feet along the temperature contrast between air masses, steering storms as it goes, has been stuck in a position well north of the continental U.S., keeping storms and cold weather at bay.