At Las Vegas Trade Show, Gun Industry Puts a Happy Face on Weapons of War

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Avery Palmer, Violence Policy Center, 202-822-8200 x104, apalmer@vpc.org
Jennifer Fiore, Campaign to Unload, (202) 486-8273, jfiore@campaigntounload.org

At Las Vegas Trade Show, Gun Industry Puts a Happy Face on Weapons of War

WASHINGTON - As the nation continues to suffer mass shootings and more than 31,000 gun deaths a year, the gun industry is holding its annual trade show this week in Las Vegas to sell and market its lethal merchandise. The event, known as the SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade) Show, is billed as the largest gun trade show in the world. It will run for four days starting on Tuesday, January 14 and is sponsored by the gun industry trade association, the Newtown, CT-based National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).

One of the SHOT Show exhibitors is Freedom Group (now officially Remington Outdoor Company, Inc.), the nation’s leading assault rifle manufacturer which made the Bushmaster XM-15 assault rifle used at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. A new Violence Policy Center (VPC) report, Freedom Group’s Militarized Marketing,reveals the disturbing details on how Freedom Group markets its weapons.

Today, gun violence prevention groups will be holding events across the country to expose the gun industry’s shameful record. The Newtown Action Alliance and Campaign to Unload are holding a press conference in Newtown, and ProgressNow Nevada will hold a press conference Monday evening in Las Vegas.

“This is not your grandfather’s gun industry that catered to hunters and sportsmen,” states VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann. “Behind closed doors in Las Vegas, gun companies are celebrating the profits they enjoy from the marketing of military-grade weapons that are routinely used in mass shootings.

“Our report on Freedom Group’s militaristic marketing provides a clear window into what the gun industry has become,” Sugarmann adds. “Freedom Group uses militaristic language and images to target gun buyers who fantasize about completing ‘missions’ or conducting ‘patrols.’ This company is aggressively promoting assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines that are designed for no purpose other than to kill other human beings as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Freedom Group is owned by Cerberus Capital Management, which pledged over one year ago to sell all its investments in the company but has failed to live up to its promise. “The irresponsibility of the gun industry at large, and of Freedom Group in particular, can no longer be tolerated,” says Jennifer Fiore, Executive Director of Campaign to Unload. “These companies have obstructed massively popular gun safety legislation. We are left with no choice: Responsible investors must divest from the gun industry. Cerberus must divest from Freedom Group or Cerberus clients should walk.”

Freedom Group is also an official National Rifle Association “corporate partner” and has donated at least $1 million to the NRA as it works to block gun violence prevention efforts. Members of the firearms industry have donated between $19.3 and $60.2 million to the NRA since 2005, as shown in the VPC’s recent study Blood Money II: How Gun Industry Dollars Fund the NRA. Other “Corporate Partners” attending the SHOT Show that have donated at least a million dollars to the NRA are Smith & Wesson, Beretta USA Corporation, Springfield Armory, Inc., and Sturm, Ruger & Co.

“These same gun manufacturers who are coming to our city to make money, have blocked background checks in Congress despite large public support to strengthen our gun laws and have made economic threats to local state governments who attempted to enact gun safety legislation,” says Annette Magnus, Executive Director of ProgressNow Nevada. “It was time for the community to hold them accountable for being obstructionists.”

Also on display at the trade show will be guns designed for “concealed carry” — featuring companies like Kel-Tec, which made the gun George Zimmerman used to kill Trayvon Martin. However, while the gun industry has called for guns to be allowed almost anywhere — from  campuses to bars to churches — personal firearms are strictly prohibited at the SHOT Show.

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The Violence Policy Center is a national tax-exempt educational organization working for a safer America through research, investigation, analysis, and advocacy. The VPC provides information to policymakers, journalists, organizations, advocates, and the general public.

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