Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Oversight Committee, has opened an investigation into five U.S. gun manufacturers in the wake of the Texas school shooting.
Maloney sent letters Friday ahead of a hearing on gun violence on June 8 to Bushmaster Firearms (pdf), Daniel Defense (pdf), Sig Sauer (pdf), Smith and Wesson (pdf), and Ruger (pdf) asking for data on how they make, market, and sell semiautomatic rifles.
“Our country faces an epidemic of gun violence, which is now the leading cause of death for children in the United States,” Maloney wrote, tying guns made by the five companies to mass shootings of the last two decades.
“I am deeply concerned that gun manufacturers continue to profit from the sale of weapons of war, including the AR-15-style assault rifle that a white supremacist used to murder ten people last week in Buffalo, New York, and the AR-15-style assault rifle that was reportedly used this week in the massacre of at least 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas.”
The Democratic lawmaker from New York accused the manufacturers of “reaping a profit from the deaths of innocent Americans” by marketing their guns “to civilians.”
She asked the companies to reveal their “annual gross revenue and profit” from semiautomatic gun sales since 2012, how much they spend on marketing annually, and how many are sold annually to distributors, retailers, consumers, and government agencies.
Maloney said the Uvalde gunman who killed 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School on May 24 used a semiautomatic rifle made by Daniel Defense, which markets firearms on its website under the categories of sports use, personal defense use, and professional arms use.
She also cited the recent 2022 Buffalo grocery store shooting, the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting, the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and the 2002 D.C. sniper attacks, among others, as times weapons made by the five manufacturers were linked to mass shootings.
The AR-15 style rifle used by the gunman in Uvalde was made by @DanielDefense.
The Las Vegas shooter was also found with four AR-15-style rifles from DD, including one outfitted with a bump stock and 100 round magazine.
— Carolyn B. Maloney (@RepMaloney) May 27, 2022
Maloney accused the five gun manufacturers of “aggressively” marketing their products to the public despite “strong public support for an assault-weapon ban.”
“The Committee respects the rights of law-abiding Americans under the Second Amendment, but that does not excuse irresponsible corporate conduct that fuels deadly gun violence and endangers our children,” she wrote.
The Epoch Times has contacted Bushmaster Firearms, Daniel Defense, Sig Sauer, Smith and Wesson, and Ruger for comment.
U.S. gunmaker Remington Arms settled a $73 million lawsuit by the parents of Sandy Hook victims in February. The company argued the shooter was responsible, not the manufacturer. It was the first time a gun manufacturer was held responsible for a shooting.
Some of the parents of the victims argued that if the company didn’t market their guns to young men, their children would still be alive. Remington had argued it was immune from claims because of the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, but ultimately decided to settle to prevent the case from going to trial.
However, proponents of gun rights argue their constitutional right to bear arms without infringement, under the Second Amendment, is an important safeguard from the potential tyranny of government.
This view was recently supported by the world’s richest man, Telsa and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who said he “strongly” believed in the right.
“Historically, maintaining their power over the people is why those in power did not allow public ownership of guns,” Musk said in an email to CNBC on May 25.
In the same email, Musk elaborated that he supports applying “tight background checks” on all gun purchases, and limits on gun sales to people with special circumstances such as “high-risk location, like gang warfare,” reported CNBC.
Later, on Twitter, he further revealed his thoughts, advocating for “at minimum” a “special permit” to own “assault rifles.”
Assault rifles should at minimum require a special permit, where the recipient is extremely well vetted imo
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 26, 2022
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a nonprofit government watchdog, replied to Musk’s posts with what he thinks is the point at issue between gun control activists and those advocating for the right to bear arms.
“A gun is a gun is a gun when it comes to those commonly available to civilians. ‘Assault rifles’ (as gun opponents have broadly defined) are no more/less deadly than other avail firearms. ‘Assault rifles’ (full automatic fire kind you likely mean) already banned/highly restricted,” Fitton said.
“In truth, anti-gun activists seek severe restrictions on, and oppose in concept, any individual civilian RIGHT to own ANY firearm, even though it is an inalienable right specifically recognized in the U.S. Constitution under the Second Amendment. This is the debate,” Fitton added.
Former President Donald Trump on Friday also spoke in support of gun rights, saying the “existence of evil” in the world made it important to arm law-abiding citizens.
“The existence of evil in our world is not a reason to disarm law-abiding citizens who know how to use their weapons and can protect a lot of people. The existence of evil is one of the best reasons to arm law-abiding citizens,” Trump said at the National Rifle Association annual convention.
Gary Bai contributed to this report.