THE LAST WORD
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By Frank Smyth
A man with an assault rifle at an exhibit booth at the George R. Brown convention center, the site for the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Houston, Texas May 5, 2013. (Photo by Adrees Latif/Reuters)
This year’s gun lobby board election brought a few surprises, as the National Rifle Association has been trying to keep the results (and the low voter turnout) quiet.
George K. Kollitides II is the founder and CEO of Freedom Group, America’s largest and most profitable firearms consortium. One of the company’s products is the Bushmaster AR-15 semi-automatic rifle that was used last December in the Sandy Hook school massacre.
Last year Freedom Group led the gun industry with record sales of almost $1 billion, or $931.9 million. Kollitides also quietly served last year on the NRA’s shadowy Nominating Committee for the NRA’s 2012 board elections, as reported in January in Mother Jones. His place on the Nominating Committee likely helped get his name on the NRA’s official ballot this year.
Yet he still lost his bid for the NRA board, according to election results just published in the August edition of the NRA’s American Rifleman magazine, available only to NRA dues-paying members, a copy of which was obtained by MSNBC. Kollitides remains a Trustee of the NRA Foundation, according to its latest annual report. The foundation’s activities include organizing gun safety and target shooting competitions for children.
By Hannah Rappleye and Tom Winter
A national sporting goods company that suspended sales of assault rifles after the Newtown, Connecticut shooting that cost 26 lives is now selling the type of gun the shooter used via a new and separate chain of specialty stores.
Dicks’ Sporting Goods issued a statement after the Dec. 14, 2012 shooting, in which Adam Lanza killed 20 students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School with a Bushmaster assault rifle, that it would suspend the sales of assault rifles.
“We are extremely saddened by the unspeakable tragedy that occurred last week,” said the statement, “and our hearts go out to victims and their families and to the entire community. Out of respect for the victims and their families, during this time of national mourning we have removed all guns from sale and from display in our store nearest to Newtown and suspended the sale of modern sporting rifles in all of our stores chainwide.”
Gun control activists praised the chain’s decision at the time. But now Dick’s has opened the first store in a new chain called Field & Stream that specializes in hunting and fishing products, and a call to the store in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania reveals that Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifles are for sale.
“We have a full stock,” said a clerk who identified himself as Gary. He said the guns retailed for $800, and that the gun counter was “really busy.”