Gun CEOs call shootings ‘local problems’ and defend ‘inanimate’ weapons

Fire arms are seen at the Bobâs Little Sport Gun Shop in the town of Glassboro, New Jersey, United States on May 26, 2022. 

Tayfun Coskun | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Major gun manufacturers have made over $1 billion in the last decade selling military-style weapons, according to an investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

A memo from the panel outlines manufacturers’ revenue and marketing strategies for assault-style weapons, focusing on the gun brands used in recent mass shootings. The release came ahead of a hearing Wednesday on the role of the firearm industry in pervasive gun violence in the United States.

At the hearing, gun manufacturer CEOs called shootings “local problems” and defended firearms as “inanimate” objects.

Sturm Ruger CEO Christopher Killoy, and Daniel Defense CEO Marty Daniel testified at Wednesday’s hearing. Smith & Wesson CEO Mark Smith was invited but didn’t attend.

At the hearing, committee chair Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., said the panel will issue subpoenas to Smith & Wesson and other manufacturers.

Earnings from assault-style weapons more than doubled for brands like Smith & Wesson, Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Daniel Defense between 2019 and 2021, according to House findings.

The committee also provided these estimated assault-style weapon revenues since 2012, the year a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut:

  • Smith & Wesson: $695 million
  • Sturm, Ruger & Co: $514 million
  • Daniel Defense: $528 million
  • SIG Sauer: Refused to report
  • Bushmaster: $2.9 million (2021 only)

Gun-makers’ products used in recent mass shooting deaths were also noted. For example, a Daniel Defense weapon was used to kill 19 children and two teachers in May at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

The brands themselves do not track deaths, injuries or crimes that involve their weapons. Sig Sauer told the committee that it does “not have the means” to track deaths. Ruger said it learns of incidents through its “customer service department,” the media or from occasional lawsuits.

“These murders are local problems that have to be solved locally,” Daniel said to committee members Wednesday.

When Maloney asked whether Killoy, the Sturm Ruger CEO, would apologize to victims of shootings, he defended the company’s product as an “inanimate object.”

The hearing comes just after California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed a law allowing citizens affected by gun violence to sue manufacturers.

The committee also focused on marketing tactics, including Smith & Wesson advertisements that mimic first-person shooter video games and a Sig Sauer weapon sold as an “apex predator.”

House Democrats are pushing to vote on an assault weapons ban later this week. If passed, the bill is unlikely to make it through the Senate.

Smith & Wesson, Sig Sauer and Sturm Ruger did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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