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In Public Service: Chairwoman Maloney introduces legislation to hold firearm industry accountable for dangerous business practices

Pair of Bills Informed by Oversight Committee’s ongoing investigation into nation’s largest manufacturers of assault weapons

August 19, 2022 Special from In Public Service
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Washington, D.C. (Aug. 19, 2022)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, introduced two pieces of legislation informed by the Committee’s investigation exposing the role of the firearm industry in fueling America’s gun violence epidemic.  These bills will hold firearm manufacturers accountable for selling weapons of war to civilians and ensure that the industry takes responsibility for preventing the use of their products in crimes.

The Firearm Industry Fairness Act would impose a 20% tax on the total revenue of manufacturers who choose to produce the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines like those used by the mass shooters in Buffalo, Uvalde, and Highland Park.  Funds would be used to prevent gun violence and support victims.

The Firearm Industry Crime and Trafficking Accountability Act would require that every firearm manufacturer create a monitoring system to track crimes committed with guns they have sold, and mandate that those manufacturers cease distributing weapons to a retailer when they have reason to believe that the guns sold by that retailer are being trafficked or used for criminal purposes.

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Chairwoman Maloney released the following statement on today’s legislation:

“This summer, my Committee heard from those touched by gun violence in this country, including parents who lost their child, a doctor who lost his patients, and the mother of a young boy who lost his father.  These Americans, along with so many others from Uvalde, Buffalo, and Highland Park, urged Congress to take action to stop gun violence.  Today, I am introducing legislation that takes on the gun industry’s dangerous business practices fueling our nation’s gun violence crisis. 

“Today’s legislation responds directly to findings from my Committee’s investigation showing that the top assault weapon manufacturers have collected more than $1 billion in revenue selling assault weapons to civilians, while refusing to track the crimes carried out with these weapons.  These bills would impose a 20% revenue tax on these manufacturers so that the family hunting rifle is not taxed at the same rate as an assault weapon, and would ensure that the firearm industry, like others industries in America, takes responsibility for the safety and misuse of its products.

“House Democrats have already passed a ban on assault weapons, but as we wait for the Senate to act, we must pursue other crucial reforms.  As Chair of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, I am committed to continuing my investigation and pursuing new legislation to curb the destructive practices of the firearm industry and save lives.”

The Firearm Industry Fairness Act

  • Taxes manufacturers and importers of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines at an annual rate of 20% of total revenue realized from all sales.
  • Uses revenue raised to support programs to reduce violence and help gun violence victims.

The Firearm Industry Crime and Trafficking Accountability Act

  • Mandates that firearm manufacturers set up a monitoring system to prevent the criminal diversion of their products, using ATF gun trace data and other available data;
  • Prohibits firearm manufacturers from supplying a firearm retailer if the manufacturer knows that its provision of firearms to that retailer will lead to a high risk of criminal activity or diversion;
  • Requires that firearm manufacturers report to the ATF bad-actor firearm distributors that are engaging in practices that allow or promote gun trafficking, straw purchasing, background checks violations, or other illegal practices; and
  • Empowers the ATF to impose meaningful financial penalties on firearm manufacturers that continue to supply bad-actor distributors, and to ask a court to suspend manufacturers’ licenses to operate in the most egregious cases.

Background on Committee’s Investigation into America’s Firearm Industry

The Oversight Committee has been investigating America’s firearm industry for several years.  In 2019, the Committee launched an investigation into gun dealers that sell guns used in crimes.  On April 28, 2022, the Committee released preliminary findings from its investigation, showing that a small number of gun dealers—particularly those in states with lax gun laws—have sold thousands of guns used in violent crimes.

On May 26, 2022, following the mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, the Committee sent letters to Daniel Defense, LLC, Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc., Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc., and other manufacturers seeking information on their sales and marketing of AR-15-style semiautomatic rifles and similar firearms—including revenue and profit information, internal data on deaths or injuries caused by firearms they manufacture, and marketing and promotional materials.

On June 8, 2022, the Committee held a historic hearing with survivors and impacted family members from the mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo, as well as gun safety experts, advocates, and local elected officials.  Following the hearing, the House passed the Protecting Our Kids Act, a package of gun reform measures.

On July 27, 2022, the Committee held a hearing with the CEOs of Sturm, Ruger & Company and Daniel Defense, who refused to take responsibility for the use of their products in mass shootings, make any changes to make their products safer, or commit to start tracking the injuries and deaths caused by their products.  After Smith & Wesson’s CEO Mark P. Smith refused to voluntarily comply with the Committee’s request to testify about the company’s sales and marketing of AR-15-style weapons, Chairwoman Maloney issued a subpoena to Smith & Wesson to obtain key information necessary to the Committee’s investigation.

Ahead of the July 27 hearing, the Committee released alarming new findings from the Committee’s investigation into the five gun manufacturers’ sale and marketing of AR-15-style assault rifles.  The Committee found that gun manufacturers collected more than $1 billion from the sales of AR-15 style semiautomatic weapons in the last decade, that the firearm industry employs manipulative marketing tactics to sell weapons of war to civilians, and that gun companies fail to track or monitor deaths, injuries, or crimes that occur using their products.

On July 29, 2022, two days after the Committee’s hearing with gun manufacturers, the House passed the Assault Weapons Ban of 2021.

Click here to read the text of The Firearm Industry Fairness Act.

Click here to read the one-pager for The Firearm Industry Fairness Act.

Click here to read the text of the Firearm Industry Crime and Trafficking Accountability Act.

Click here to read the one-pager for the Firearm Industry Crime and Trafficking Accountability Act. 


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