Gunmakers sold more than $1 billion worth of assault rifles in decade: House panel

Guns are seen at the Bobas Little Sport Gun Shop in the town of Glassboro, New Jersey, U.S. May 26, 2022.

Tayfun Coskun | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Major gunmakers have earned more than $1 billion over the past decade selling military-style assault weapons, according to a survey by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

A panel note outlines manufacturer earnings and marketing strategies for assault-type weapons, focusing on the brands of weapons used in recent mass shootings. The publication came ahead of a hearing on Wednesday on the role of the gun industry in widespread gun violence in the United States.

Assault weapons revenue more than doubled for brands like Smith & Wesson, Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Daniel Defense between 2019 and 2021, according to House findings. Sturm Ruger CEO Christopher Killoy and Daniel Defense CEO Marty Daniel are due to testify at Wednesday’s hearing. Smith & Wesson CEO Mark Smith was invited but will not attend.

During the hearing, committee chairwoman Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, DN.Y., said the committee would issue subpoenas to Smith & Wesson and other manufacturers.

The committee also provided these estimated assault weapons earnings since 2012, the year a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut:

  • Smith & Wesson: $695 million
  • Sturm, Ruger & Co: $514 million
  • Daniel Defense: $528 million
  • SIG Sauer: declined to report
  • Bushmaster: $2.9 million (2021 only)

The number of recent mass shooting deaths was also listed for each company, with assault weapons from all five brands used in at least two recent killings. The shooter who killed 19 children and two teachers in May at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, used a weapon made by Daniel Defense.

The brands themselves do not track deaths, injuries, or crimes involving their weapons. Sig Sauer told the committee he had “no means” to track the deaths. Ruger said he learns of the incidents through his “customer service”, the media or the occasional lawsuit.

“These murders are local issues that need to be solved locally,” Daniel told committee members on Wednesday.

The hearing comes just after California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed legislation allowing citizens affected by gun violence to sue manufacturers.

The committee also focused on marketing tactics, including Smith & Wesson ads that mimic first-person shooter video games and a Sig Sauer gun being marketed as a “predator supreme”.

House Democrats are pushing to vote on an assault weapons ban later this week. If passed, the bill is unlikely to pass the Senate.

Smith & Wesson, Sig Sauer and Sturm Ruger did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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