In wake of Newtown, Dick’s Sporting Goods pulls rifles from stores

Posted Dec. 18, 2012, at 5:43 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Dick’s Sporting Goods has pulled “modern sporting rifles” from its shelves in the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Dick’s has four locations in Maine: Bangor, Portland, Augusta and Topsham.

A statement posted on the company’s website said that “during this time of national mourning,” it had removed all guns from its store nearest to Newtown and “suspended the sale of modern sporting rifles in all of our stores chainwide.”

On Dec. 14, a gunman broke into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and killed 26 people, including 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7. His weapons were a .223-caliber Bushmaster assault rifle, and two handguns: a 9 mm Sig Sauer and a 10 mm Glock.

The statement from Dick’s did not specify how long the sale of modern sporting rifles would be suspended.

A manager at the Dick’s location in Bangor, when reached on the phone, would not confirm or comment on whether rifles were still for sale at its location at 641 Stillwater Ave. The manager referred all questions to the company’s media relations department. The manager of the Portland location also directed all inquiries to corporate headquarters.

A call and email to the media relations department at the company’s Pittsburgh headquarters were not returned as of late Tuesday afternoon.

Dick’s made the decision after reports that investigators were trying to determine if the suspect in the Newtown shooting attempted to purchase a weapon at its store in Danbury, Conn., which is about 12 miles away from Newtown, according to a TV station in Los Angeles.

“At this time, reports that the suspect visited one of our stores last week have not been confirmed by law enforcement,” Dick’s said in statement to KTLA 5. “Based on our records, we can confirm that no firearms were sold to the suspect identified in this case.”

Dick’s, which operates 511 stores in 44 states, isn’t the only major retailer to respond to the massacre in Newtown. On Monday, The Nation reported that Walmart had pulled from its shelves and website a Bushmaster assault rifle similar to the one used in Newtown.

In addition, Cerberus Capital Management, the hedge fund that owns the company that manufactured the Bushmaster assault rifle used in the shooting, on Tuesday said it would sell its investment in the company.

Bushmaster Firearms was originally a company based in Windham, Maine. Cerberus acquired the company in 2006 and bundled it with other firearm manufacturers under the umbrella of Freedom Group. Madison, N.C.-based Freedom Group closed the Bushmaster facility in Windham in early 2011, laying off its 73 employees, and moved the manufacturing to its other facilities.

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