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House committee calls CEOs of gun manufacturers to testify

House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) speaks during a hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill on June 8. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
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The House Oversight Committee is ramping up its investigation into gun manufacturers and has requested that CEOs of three major gun manufacturers appear before Congress at the end of the month in the wake of a string of harrowing mass shootings involving assault-style rifles that have killed and injured scores of Americans.

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), the committee’s chairwoman, on Wednesday sent letters to Marty Daniel, the CEO of Daniel Defense, Mark Smith, the president and CEO of Smith & Wesson Brands, and Christopher Killoy, the president and CEO of Sturm, Ruger & Co., requesting testimony as a part of a second hearing hosted by the committee examining the firearms industry.

Daniel Defense is the maker of the DDM4 rifle the gunman used to kill 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Tex., and a shooter on Monday used a Smith & Wesson M&P semiautomatic rifle to kill at least seven people and wound dozens of others during a July Fourth parade in Highland Park, Ill.

The July 20 hearing comes after Maloney launched an investigation into gun manufacturers in May. Maloney requested information from five manufacturers regarding the making, sale and marketing of deadly weapons used in mass shootings that were purchased legally and used by the gunmen responsible for the carnage in Uvalde, Highland Park and Buffalo.

Maloney requested each company’s gross revenue and profit from sales of 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. Maloney cites new financial information that has been provided to the committee so far as reason for the CEOs to appear.

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“The information you provided has heightened the Committee’s concern that your company is continuing to profit from the sale and marketing of weapons of war to civilians despite the harm these weapons cause, is failing to track instances or patterns where your products are used in crimes, and is failing to take other reasonable precautions to limit injuries and deaths caused by your firearms,” Maloney wrote in a letter to Killoy, provided to The Washington Post.

She also wrote to Smith that his company has produced “some of the information and documents responsive to our inquiry, but you have refused to produce information specifically regarding semiautomatic rifles based on the AR platform, despite admitting that you keep such records.”

Gunmakers sold an estimated 19.9 million firearms in 2021 and 22.8 million firearms in 2020, according to the research group Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting. AR-15-style rifles have grown increasingly popular and become especially lucrative for newer companies like Daniel Defense.

The first hearing hosted by the committee featured gripping testimony from survivors of mass shootings caused by assault rifles, including 11-year-old Miah Cerrillo who spoke about her horrifying experience inside a classroom at Robb Elementary School and a pediatrician who treated victims of the Uvalde shooting. Roy Guerrero said during the hearing that the bullets from the AR-15-style assault rifle “pulverized” and “decapitated” the bodies of children during the shooting.

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“Since the Oversight Committee launched our investigation into the gun industry and its disgraceful role in marketing these dangerous weapons, we found that Daniel Defense, Smith & Wesson, and Sturm, Ruger play prominent roles in an industry that makes billions of dollars in profits selling these products, including selling the assault weapons used in Highland Park and Uvalde,” Maloney said in a statement. “I am inviting the chief executive officers of these firearms manufacturers to explain to Congress and the American people why they continue to sell products to civilians that are meant to be used in the battlefield.”

Congress last month passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which provides funding for mental health services and school security initiatives, expands criminal background checks for some gun buyers, and provides federal grants to states that enact red-flag laws meant to keep guns away from those found to be at risk of committing murder or attempting suicide. But Maloney wrote to the CEOs that the law does not go far enough.

“This law is an important step, but it does not ban assault weapons or implement other safety solutions that the gun industry has lobbied aggressively to prevent,” she wrote.

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