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An employee arranges rifles on display

An employee arranges rifles at RTD Arms & Sport in Goffstown, New Hampshire on June 2, 2022. (Photo: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)

Slamming Their Profits From 'Weapons of War,' House Panel Asks Gun CEOs to Testify

"Products sold by your company have been used for decades to carry out homicides and even mass murders," the Democratic chair of the House Oversight Committee told the top executives of three major gun makers.

Jake Johnson

The Democratic chair of the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday invited the CEOs of several major U.S. gun manufacturers to testify at a hearing later this month as the nation reels from a string of horrific mass shootings.

In letters to the chief executives of Daniel Defense, Smith & Wesson Brands, and Sturm, Ruger, and Company, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) noted that the committee she leads is examining "the role of the firearms industry in the gun violence epidemic, including with respect to the sale and marketing of assault weapons and the broad civil immunity that has been unfairly granted to manufacturers."

"Your testimony is crucial to understand why your company continues to sell and market these weapons to civilians."

"I am deeply troubled that gun manufacturers continue to profit from the sale of weapons of war, including AR-15-style assault rifles that were used by a white supremacist to murder ten people in Buffalo, New York and in the massacre of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas," Maloney wrote. "Just this Monday, as Americans celebrated our nation's Independence Day, a shooter used an AR-15-style rifle to kill at least seven people and wound dozens of others during a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois."

"Products sold by your company," she added, "have been used for decades to carry out homicides and even mass murders, yet your company has continued to market assault weapons to civilians."

The upcoming hearing, scheduled for July 20, is part of a broader investigation into the U.S. gun violence crisis that the House Oversight Committee launched in late May, days after the Uvalde massacre—one of hundreds of mass shootings that have taken place in the U.S. so far this year.

Daniel Defense, the Georgia-based arms maker whose CEO has been invited to deliver testimony later this month, is the manufacturer of the AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle that the Uvalde gunman used to kill 21 people at Robb Elementary School.

"Dr. Roy Guerrero, a pediatrician who treated victims of the Uvalde shooting, testified to the devastation the AR-15-style assault rifle has on the bodies of children, who were 'pulverized' and 'decapitated' by the bullets fired at them," Maloney wrote in her letter to Daniel Defense CEO Marty Daniel.

"As the chief executive officer of a major firearms manufacturer that sells thousands of assault weapons," the New York Democrat continued, "your testimony is crucial to understand why your company continues to sell and market these weapons to civilians, what steps your company plans to take to protect the public, and what additional reforms are needed to prevent further deaths from your products."

According to The Trace, an investigative outlet that tracks gun violence in the U.S., "publicly traded gun companies have netted somewhere in the ballpark of $3 billion" since the coronavirus pandemic began, "far outpacing previous years' earnings."

"More than 45,000 people died by gunfire in the first year of the pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—an accretion of hundreds of smaller mass shootings, deadly neighborhood disputes, and firearm suicides that pushed the death toll to an all-time high," The Trace noted in late May. "Estimates suggest the bloodshed only worsened in 2021, and show that firearm violence remains elevated heading into this summer."

In a statement on Thursday, Maloney said that "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."

"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," she added.

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