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House Oversight Committee initiates gun manufacturer investigation

Rep. Carolyn B, Maloney (D-N.Y.) contacted five gunmakers on Thursday, requesting information regarding the manufacturing, sale and marketing of deadly weapons used in mass shootings

Police officers gather near a makeshift memorial for the shooting victims outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Tex., on May 27. (Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images)

In the wake of two massacres that have killed 31 people in less than two weeks, the chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has launched an investigation into gun manufacturers.

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) contacted five gunmakers on Thursday, requesting information regarding the manufacturing, sale, and marketing of deadly weapons used in mass shootings. Both gunmen responsible for the carnage in Buffalo and Uvalde, Tex., used AR-15-style rifles, purchased legally at the age of 18.

The companies being investigated, according to letters provided to The Washington Post, include Daniel Defense, the maker of the DDM4 rifle the gunman used to kill 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, and Bushmaster, the maker of the Bushmaster XM-15 semiautomatic rifle that the suspected Buffalo shooter said he illegally modified and then used to kill 10 people at a Tops Friendly Markets store.

In a letter to Marty Daniel, the CEO of Daniel Defense, Maloney cites online advertising posted by the company on May 16 of a toddler holding an AR-15-style rifle. The picture featured “a caption quoting a biblical proverb to 'Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it,’ ” Maloney writes. Daniel Defense protected its tweets from public view shortly after the shooting.

“Your company’s own weapons of war have been repeatedly used to carry out horrific and deadly attacks,” Maloney says in the letter. “In addition to this week’s horrific shooting in Texas, four Daniel Defense AR-15-style rifles were found in the hotel room of the 2017 Las Vegas shooter. This shooter used more than a dozen assault weapons to massacre 60 people and wound more than 400 others. One of these Daniel Defense weapons was found with a bump stock and a 100-round magazine.”

The gunman who murdered 26 people in the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 was also carried out with a Bushmaster XM-15.

Democrats control the House and have already passed two gun bills that would expand background checks and tighten gun sale regulations, but hold only a slim advantage in the Senate, which has stymied their ability to enact the laws. They’ve renewed their push for new restrictions on guns this week, which are opposed by most Republicans on Capitol Hill.

The House Oversight Committee is also investigating Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc., and Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. Maloney has requested each company’s gross revenue and profit sales from semiautomatic rifles based on AR-15 style guns, annual spending on advertising and marketing of these rifles, annual spending on federal and state lobbying, and funding provided to the National Rifle Association by June 2.

Investigators have also asked whether each company monitors or tracks deaths or injuries caused by semiautomatic rifles and marketing and public relations materials related to these types of firearms.

Maloney writes that the Bushmaster XM-15 was “easily modified by the shooter to accept high-capacity magazines," and asks whether each company tracks crimes carried out with a modified firearm or has taken any measures to prevent its firearms from being illegally modified after purchase.

President Biden urged Congress to address the “carnage” of gun violence on Tuesday, but two House-passed proposals to overhaul gun laws have stalled as Republicans have firmly opposed existing gun-control bills.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) signaled on Wednesday that his caucus is open to trying to work with Republicans over modest new gun restrictions in order to break the gridlock. Republicans, however, have continued to defend private ownership of firearms and instead called to address issues of mental health treatment and school security in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Uvalde.