| April 24
April 24 General Electric Co discovered
it was financing a small number of firearm purchases in the wake
of the Newtown, Connecticut, school shootings - despite deciding
five years ago to avoid the practice - and moved to stop future
loans, the company said on Wednesday.
Many of the conglomerate's employees live in or near
Newtown, about 25 miles (40 km) from GE's Fairfield,
Connecticut, headquarters. Peter Lanza, the father of the
Newtown gunman, is a GE executive.
The company's GE Capital unit stopped providing consumer
financing in 2008 at retailers whose primary business was
firearms, except to less than 75 grandfathered businesses. After
Newtown, it stopped financing even those handful of stores,
spokesman Russell Wilkerson said Wednesday.
The news was first reported earlier Wednesday by the Wall
The December massacre that killed 20 children and six adults
intensified the U.S. debate on guns, with many states and
lawmakers pushing for broader background checks on gun buyers
and limits on sales of weapons and ammunition.
GE Capital did not publicly announce the policy change in
2008, but told prospective new customers it was no longer
providing the service, Wilkerson added.
The GE Capital loans have typically been for relatively
small amounts - most firearms cost only several hundred dollars
- and have little effect on GE Capital's portfolio.
The checks after the Newtown shootings, which GE said
involved a "rigorous audit process," were part of its attempt to
distance itself from gun culture.
The Newtown shooting has led to other capital investment
Cerberus Capital Management LP has decided to sell
Freedom Group, maker of the Bushmaster rifle used in the Newtown
Banking sources have told Reuters that major Wall Street
firms have been unwilling to finance a bid for Freedom Group,
and Cerberus co-founder Stephen Feinberg may end up pursuing a
private bid for the brand.