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Lawmakers question CEOs of gun manufacturers in wake of mass shootings

WASHINGTON — The heads of two major gun manufacturers faced questions on Capitol Hill Wednesday about assault rifle sales and their business practices in the wake of mass shootings around the country.

Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee released new findings showing that five major gun manufacturers made more than $1 billion from assault rifle sales in the last decade.

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Their investigation also pointed to manipulative marketing tactics, including ones that targeted young people.

“The gun industry has flooded our neighborhoods, our schools and even our churches and synagogues with these deadly weapons and has gotten rich doing it,” said Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

Lawmakers questioned the head of Daniel Defense, LLC., the company that made the rifle used in the Uvalde, TX elementary school shooting.

“How many more American children need to die before your company will stop selling assault weapons to civilians and young men?” asked Maloney.

“These murders are local problems that have to be solved locally,” responded Marty Daniel, CEO of Daniel Defense, LLC.

“Will you accept personal responsibility for your company’s role in this tragedy and apologize to the families of Uvalde?” Maloney continued.

“These acts are committed by murderers,” said Daniel. “The murderers are responsible.”

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Republicans, meanwhile, expressed outrage over Democrats placing blame on the gun companies.

“This is like the old saying of we’re going to blame the manufacturers of forks and spoons for obesity,” said Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA).

Gun manufacturers and Republicans argued the focus should instead be on cracking down on criminals who use guns illegally.

“It is wrong to deprive citizens of their constitutional right to purchase a lawful firearm they desire because of the criminal acts of wicked people,” said Christopher Killoy, President and CEO of Sturm, Ruger & Company Inc.

Many Democrats and gun safety advocates are calling for the return of the assault weapons ban.

“Gun violence is a public health problem, and it requires public policy solutions,” said Kelly Sampson, Senior Counsel and Director of Racial Justice for the Brady Campaign.

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An assault weapons ban proposal passed in a key House committee, but it is not expected to pass in the Senate.

Lawmakers also noted who was not part of Wednesday’s discussion – the CEO of Smith & Wesson, another popular gun manufacturer.

The committee invited Mark Smith, President and CEO of Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc., but he did not attend.

Maloney said she plans to subpoena Smith & Wesson for documents about assault rifle sales.

We reached out to Smith & Wesson Brands Inc. for comment, but we have not heard back.