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Posts Tagged ‘Newtown shooting’

Connecticut Town Sponsors ‘Violent Video Game’ Buyback

We’ve registered our skepticism of the usual “violent video games and movies did it” scapegoating that followed the tragic Newtown shooting last month, but some people take this idea very, very seriously.

In fact, one Connecticut town recently went so far as to organize a voluntary video game return program, offering residents a gift certificate in exchange for their “violent games”, which will be collected and destroyed.

Each resident who returns a single game will receive a $25 gift certificate (which is significant considering how low the buyback value of these ~$60 games usually turns out to be).

The town’s school superintendent says that the purpose of the drive is to encourage parents to have a “real, sound conversation with their children about video games”–if they are uncomfortable with their kids’ gaming hobbies, they should turn the games in to the town government, to be destroyed on January 12 (officials will also accept violent movies and/or music).

We’re not quite sure what the ultimate effect of this initiative will be, but we know that top game makers are feeling the pressure to issue some kind of public response. Tell us, PR pros: Should companies like Electronic Arts respond to the recent swell of stories about “shooter” games? If so, what could they possibly say?

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Cerebrus Capital to Sell Maker of Fatal Rifle

Cerebrus Capital Management describes itself as “one of the world’s leading private investment firms”. The group frequently works with top PR firm Weber Shandwick. Cerebrus also owns Freedom Group, a holding company that includes the gunmaker Bushmaster (the same company that manufactured the weapon used in last week’s horrific Newtown, Connecticut shooting).

Today brings news that Cerebrus plans to sell all assets in Freedom Group in a coordinated act of damage control. We have reason to believe that Weber Shandwick advised Cerebrus to take this route, and we have to say that it was a very good decision.

Private equity firms generally don’t rely too much on public opinion, but pressure to act began building as soon as the public learned of Cerebrus’s significant stake in the nation’s largest gun manufacturer. See, quite a few Americans nursed pension funds directly tied to a company that makes semi-automatic rifles—and they didn’t even know it.

While this move will almost certainly cause Cerebrus to lose money in the short term (let’s not forget the massive profit margins enjoyed by companies that make weapons), we still feel like it’s the right decision, because continued ties to the Freedom Group could discourage future investors.

Cerebrus’s official statement on the matter reads: “We believe that this decision allows us to meet our obligations to the investors whose interests we are entrusted to protect without being drawn into the national debate that is more properly pursued by those with the formal charter and public responsibility to do so”. Yes, we can certainly see why they wouldn’t want to be involved in that debate.

Bloomberg also notes that the father of Cerebrus founder Stephen Feinberg lives in Newtown, but let’s be honest here—it’s all about the money.

NRA’s Media Team Goes Silent After Newtown Tragedy

National Rifle AssociationFriday’s horrific violence in Newtown, Connecticut, understandably dominated every corner of the American media this weekend.

Many citizens (most prominently President Obama) spoke of taking every available step to prevent similar shootings in the future while others warned against politicizing the tragedy. Quite a few Americans also had energetic debates about gun control, both online and off. Even West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, who built a campaign around disagreeing with his party’s leaders on gun rights, suggested that the nation must now have a “sensible” dialogue on gun control.

Nearly every business and organization in the country, from The National School Board to a group representing the families of Virginia Tech shooting victims, made some sort of official statement. Yet the nonprofit at the center of America’s relationship with guns was conspicuously silent: The National Rifle Association has not released an official statement or tweet since the tragedy, and its Facebook page is no longer visible today. While officials at both the NRA and Facebook have not responded to requests for comment, bloggers at TechCrunch speculated that the group took its page offline in order to “avoid hosting flame wars” between commentors on opposing sides of the gun control issue. Knowing the nature of online debates as well as we do, we think that was a very good idea.

We sympathize with the NRA’s position from a PR perspective:

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