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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

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook's scandals have been great for shareholders

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios

Facebook has been embroiled in scandal for the past five years, and while the specific allegations change over time, a central theme is constant. Given the choice between commercial and moral imperatives, Facebook always seems to choose the option that is best for the share price.

Why it matters: Facebook's stock chart supports that narrative. Since the 2016 scandals alleging that the social network was infiltrated by foreign actors trying to influence the outcome of democratic elections, Facebook's revenues — and its stock — have been soaring.

Biden to tap telecom trio for NTIA, FCC posts

Jessica Rosenworcel. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

President Joe Biden on Tuesday is expected to name Alan Davidson as head of the telecom arm of the Commerce Department, Jessica Rosenworcel as chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission and Gigi Sohn as a commissioner at the FCC, according to a person familiar with the process.

Why it matters: Internet availability and affordability has been a key policy priority for the White House, but the administration lagged in tapping people for the agency posts that oversee the issues.

3 hours ago - Technology

Facebook seeks fountain of youth

Data: Piper Sandler Taking Stock With Teens Study; Chart: Axios Visuals

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday said that the company is pivoting its strategy to focus on young adults, following reports that teens have fled its apps.

Why it matters: A series of stories based on leaked whistleblower documents suggest the company sees the aging of its user base as an existential threat to its business.