Gun Manufacturers Refuse to Take Responsibility for Fueling America’s Gun Violence Epidemic According to Committee Hearing
Hearing Follows Committee’s Alarming New Findings on Firearm Industry’s Sales and Marketing of Assault Rifles
Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, held a hearing to examine the role of the firearms industry in America’s gun violence epidemic. Ahead of the hearing, the Committee released new findings from the Committee’s investigation into five major gun manufacturers’ sales and marketing of AR-15-style assault rifles. The Committee found that gun manufacturers collected more than $1 billion from the sale of AR-15-style semiautomatic weapons in the last decade.
“Our investigation shows that five major gun manufacturers collected a total of more than $1 billion dollars from the sale of assault rifles over the last decade,” said Chairwoman Maloney in her opening statement. “Our investigation also found that gun manufacturers use dangerous marketing tactics to sell assault weapons to the public. That includes marketing to children, preying on young men’s insecurities, and even appealing to violent white supremacists. Finally, we found that even as guns kill more Americans than ever, none of these companies take even basic steps to monitor the deaths and injuries caused by their products. That is beyond irresponsible.”
At the start of today’s hearing, Chairwoman Maloney announced her intent to issue a document subpoena to Smith & Wesson after the company’s CEO refused to testify about the company’s sales and marketing of assault-style weapons.
The Committee heard testimony from Christopher Killoy, President and CEO of Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc.; Marty Daniel, CEO of Daniel Defense, LLC; Ryan Busse, Senior Advisor at Giffords Law Center; Kelly Sampson, Senior Counsel and Director of Racial Justice at Brady: United Against Gun Violence; and Antonia Okafor, National Director of Women’s Outreach Gun Owners of America.
Gun executives refused to take responsibility for the use of their products in mass shootings, make any changes to try to prevent gun violence, or commit to start tracking the injuries and deaths caused by their products.
In response to questioning from Chairwoman Maloney, both CEOs refused to accept responsibility for the use of their guns in mass shootings, with Mr. Daniel claiming, “these murders are local problems.”
The gun executives also refused to take any responsibility for monitoring or tracking their guns used in crimes. In response to a question from Rep. Ro Khanna, Mr. Killoy testified that tracking these violent crimes is: “Not our job.”
The gun executives refused to take any responsibility for advertising to white supremacists and extremist groups. In response to a question from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mr. Killoy refused to condemn marketing to extremist and white supremacist groups.
The gun executives refused to apply common-sense safety features to their guns. In response to questioning from Rep. Katie Porter about how many of their weapons come with fingerprint identity scanners, Mr. Killoy and Mr. Daniel both responded: “none.” Both CEOs also refused to commit to implementing safety features on their products.
Members questioned witnesses about the dangerous and reckless marketing and sales tactics that fuel gun manufacturers’ profits.
In response to questioning from Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s about the use of the Valknot—a white supremacy symbol—in a 2017 Daniel Defense products catalog, Mr. Daniel claimed to not recognize his company’s own advertisement or the symbol. Gun violence expert Kelly Sampson explained that the Valknot “is a symbol increasingly embraced by white supremacists.”
When pressed by Rep. Brenda Lawrence about his company’s use of an image posted to Twitter depicting a toddler holding an assault rifle, Mr. Daniel admitted that the advertisement was “inappropriate” in light of the Uvalde massacre, while continuing to defend Daniel Defense’s marketing practices.
In response to Rep. Stephen Lynch’s question about the use of buy-now-pay-later financing and how this exacerbates the gun violence epidemic, Ms. Sampson explained: “The reason why this is so compelling—especially for young consumers—is because AR-15s and the like are rather expensive weapons and so for individuals who may be younger this may be another way for them to get their hands on them.”
Witnesses testified about the enormous damage caused by AR-15-style weapons, the weapon of choice in numerous mass shootings, calling these firearms “weapons of war” that belong on the battlefield.
In response to questioning from Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton regarding the dangerousness of AR15-style rifles, Ms. Sampson testified: “Not only are they able to shoot from a further distance, but they also allow a lone shooter to inflict much more harm on a greater number of people in a shorter amount of time.”
In response to questioning from Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi about the threat AR-15 style firearms pose to law enforcement’s body armor, Mr. Busse explained that the “stated purpose for that rifle was to defeat body armor on the field of war.” Both Mr. Killoy and Mr. Daniel refused to stop selling guns that are made to “tear through body armor.”
In a response to a question from Rep. Shontel Brown, Mr. Daniel acknowledged his company’s firearms are designed to kill, noting that their guns “have to be dangerous to be good for self-defense.”
Witnesses and Democratic Members discussed the need for legislative solutions to hold gun manufacturers accountable, ban dangerous assault weapons, adopt safety features, and stop the bloodshed caused by these weapons of war in American communities.
In her opening statement, Chairwoman Maloney announced: “And in the coming weeks, I intend to introduce additional legislation to hold the gun industry accountable for the damage inflicted by their products—just like the car industry, the pharmaceutical industry, or any other American business.”
In response to a question from Congresswoman Norton, Ms. Sampson testified: “Renewing the assault weapons ban would prevent deadly mass shootings because we know that assault weapons are the weapons of choice for mass shooters.”
In response to a question from Rep. Mark DeSaulnier regarding the effectiveness of gun violence prevention legislation, Mr. Busse explained: “The fact is, the laws impact the way people purchase and use guns and we, as a responsible society, and you, as a governing body, need to take that into account.”
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