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Bushmaster History: How One Of the Biggest Firearms Brands Came To Be

By    |   Wednesday, 06 May 2015 10:51 AM

Now one of the biggest brands in firearms and part of a group that encompasses several brands, Bushmaster’s history came to be when a war veteran bought a bankrupt company in Maine.

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Richard Dyke, a veteran of the Korean War, bought the Bangor, Maine, gunmaker for $241,000, according to The New York Times. The company moved to Windham, Maine, and began making M-16 military assault rifles and their civilian variant, the semi-automatic AR-15.

When competition shooters began winning matches with Bushmaster rifles, “the company quickly earned a following,” the Times reported. The accuracy and ease of use of the AR-15 style rifle, together with marketing based on the guns’ appeal to military veterans and aficionados, quickly made the category a top seller, with the Bushmaster name in the forefront, as the Times reported. After that came the law-enforcement contracts and the favorable mentions from gun writers.

A move by the federal government to ban “assault-style” weapons fueled interest among gun buyers in advance of the ban’s taking effect, and gunmakers simply removed forbidden features such as bayonet mounts from their weapons to keep sales legal. According to The New York Times, the gun industry as a whole — Bushmaster included — produced more such weapons during the decade of the ban than it had in the decade leading up to it.

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According to the Portland Press-Herald, Dyke sold the company in 2006 for $70 million to Cerberus Capital Management, and Bushmaster became part of Cerberus’s Freedom Group, which also includes the famous American gunmaker Remington. Bushmaster firearms were made at Windham until 2011, when the company was relocated to North Carolina.

Unfavorable press began to dog the company beginning with the 2002 “D.C. Sniper” shootings, in which two people were convicted of killing 10 and injuring three in and around Washington, D.C. A Bushmaster rifle was used in the killings.

Most infamously, in December 2012, Adam Lanza killed his mother, then used her Bushmaster XM-15, as the company calls its AR-15 model, to kill children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Once again, the publicity led to a spike in sales, again fueled by gun buyers fearing a ban.

It also led to Cerberus Capital looking to unload its interest in Bushmaster, which it’s still trying to do, according to CNN Money. Meanwhile, California public school teachers are considering what to do about their pension fund still being invested in Cerberus Capital and, by extension, the maker of the rifle used to kill their fellow educators and their young charges.

Bushmaster still continues to produce a variety of weapons based on the AR-15 pattern and its new “Adaptive Combat Rifle” at its North Carolina and New York facilities. Bloomberg’s profile of the company says it “... serves police departments, and military and law enforcement organizations worldwide; and consumers for hunting, recreation, competition, and home defense and security applications.”

This article does not constitute legal advice. Check the current gun laws before purchasing or traveling with a firearm.

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Now one of the biggest brands in firearms and part of a group that encompasses several brands, Bushmaster’s history came to be when a war veteran bought a bankrupt company in Maine.
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Wednesday, 06 May 2015 10:51 AM
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