Madison, N.C. — The national debate over assault rifles in light of the Newtown, Conn., massacre has become personal for the Rockingham County town of Madison, which is north of Greensboro.
The community of about 2,200 citizens is headquarters for Freedom Group International, which designs, manufactures and sells firearms under the Remington and Bushmaster names.
The AR-15 used in last Friday's shooting of 27 people, including 20 children, is made by the company.
That has residents talking.
"I feel so bad for those children and those families, but I don't blame the guns either," said Carol Rorrer, whose son works at Freedom Group. "The guns are just a tiny part of it."
Rorrer and her husband, Robert, believe more focus should be on reforming the mental health system rather than the gunmaker.
"I have mixed feelings about it," Robert Rorrer said. "It looks to me like they're blaming the gun instead of other things. Guns don't kill people. People kill people."
Freedom Group sold 1.1 million rifles and shotguns last year, along with 2 billion rounds of ammunition. Its customers include law enforcement and military agencies, as well as retailers that serve hunters and gun enthusiasts.
On Tuesday, Cerberus Capital Management, the company's majority investor, announced that it plans to the sell its stake to distance itself from the controversy.
The move has residents concerned.
"The company of Remington means a whole lot to this town," said Roderick Manuel. "There's probably 300 to 400 employees around here."
WRAL News contacted Freedom Group for an interview Tuesday, but the company declined.