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House panel subpoenas gun manufacturer of weapon used in Highland Park

The subpoena comes after Smith & Wesson did not provide documents and testimony to the House Oversight Committee

A Smith & Wesson semiautomatic firearm seen on-screen during a House Oversight Committee hearing examining the practices and profits of gun manufacturers on July 27. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

The House Oversight Committee has subpoenaed the firearms manufacturer Smith & Wesson for key documents related to the company’s sale and marketing of AR-15-style firearms after it failed to produce sufficient documents and information requested by the committee and the company’s CEO refused to appear before Congress last month.

The letter transmitting notice of the subpoena to Smith, and reviewed by The Washington Post, highlighted the incomplete figures provided to the Oversight Committee by Smith & Wesson so far — and key gaps in the company’s metrics.

“While your company refused to provide information specific to AR-15-style rifles, the limited information provided shows that your company brought in at least $125 million from AR-15 style rifles in 2021 alone,” the committee’s chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), writes about the need for a subpoena for the company that manufactured the assault rifle used by the gunman who opened fire on a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Ill., killing seven and injuring 46 people.

Overall, the committee found that the five leading gun manufacturers under investigation raked in over “$1 billion in revenue over the past decades” through sales of AR-15-style rifles, according to Maloney, and that Smith & Wesson reported a record $1.1 billion in overall sales in the company’s latest annual earnings report — the highest in its 170-year history.

Maloney writes that Smith & Wesson informed the committee that it “makes no effort to track or monitor injury, deaths, or crimes associated with AR-15-style rifles you manufacture, even though this data is included in a tracing process run by the Bureau of Alchohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.”

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President and chief executive Mark P. Smith initially agreed to appear before the committee, according to Maloney, but reversed course over concerns that he would be “the only industry CEO to appear.” Despite assurances from his counsel that Smith would be “willing” to appear in a future hearing featuring representation from the industry, he ultimately declined to appear at the July 27 hearing where executives from Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Daniel Defense appeared.

“Your counsel stated for the first time that you would be ‘out of town’ and ‘unavailable to testify’ every day until Congress went out of session for the month-long district work period in August,” Maloney writes.

During that hearing, those other executives defended their products and ownership of powerful rifles, arguing that the issue was the people who used those weapons to inflict mass deaths.

The committee, which launched its investigation in May, released a report ahead of the hearing that criticized the gun companies for the ways they promoted guns, including “marketing to children, preying on young men’s insecurities and even appealing to violent white supremacists,” Maloney said during the hearing.