Gunmakers making more money amid US mass shooting crisis
Firearm manufacturers in the United States have been making more and more money as of late, especially in light of the mass shooting epidemic.
Gunmakers in the United States have seen a tremendous hike in earnings from their sales of AR-15-style rifles, a US House Oversight Committee probe revealed on Wednesday as the country undergoes a mass shooting crisis and while lawmakers call for holding the industry accountable for crimes committed using their products.
"Gun manufacturers collected more than $1 billion from the sale of AR-15-style semiautomatic weapons in the last decade - and sales are increasing as gun deaths and mass shootings rise," a memorandum on the Oversight Committee investigation said.
Firearm manufacturer Daniel Defense earned more than $120 million in revenue from selling AR-15-Style rifles in 2021, a three-fold increase from the amount it made two years earlier in 2019.
Gunmaker Ruger's earnings, on the other hand, witnessed a near-three-fold increase over the same time period, going from $39 million in 2019 to more than $103 million in 2021, the memorandum revealed.
The recent spike in tragic shootings has pushed guns to the forefront of a national debate as US leaders grapple with how to reduce the alarming rate of violence.
Two shootings in May that left 21 people dead, mostly young children, at an elementary school in Texas and 10 Black grocery patrons dead in upstate New York revived the US' bitter debate over gun regulation.
The Oversight Committee's probe into the gun industry practices found that companies, including Daniel Defense and Sig Sauer, employ a variety of marketing and financing tactics to increase sales of AR-15-style rifles to civilians, according to the memorandum.
The memorandum also added that the producers promote the military heritage of the rifles and employ marketing that is reminiscent of the first-person shooter video games that are highly popular among children and young adults.
The committee on Wednesday also held a hearing with gun industry representatives, including Daniel Defense CEO Marty Daniel and Ruger CEO and President Christopher Killoy.
Daniel claimed that the "erosion of personal responsibility" deserved some of the blame for the rise in mass shootings, Daniel told the panel. He also argues that mass shootings were far less common decades ago despite firearms technology remaining relatively the same.
Any firearm can be used for good or for evil, Killoy said, practically reiterating Daniel's claims. The difference is the intent of the individual using it, he added during the congressional hearing.
The arguments made by the heads of some of the biggest gun manufacturing firms in the United States were echoed by committee ranking member James Comer, who also said criminals were responsible for the shootings rather than the guns they used.
Democratic lawmakers are targeting the gun industry for "political purposes," Comer claimed.
Democrat Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said she would soon introduce new legislation to hold gun manufacturers accountable for their alleged role in mass shootings.
US President Joe Biden called on members of Congress to pass tougher laws just a day after a mass shooting in Tulsa, Oklahoma, over a week after a school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, and almost three weeks after a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York City.
The Democrat leader called on lawmakers to raise - at a minimum - the age at which assault weapons can be purchased from 18 to 21. He highlighted the "unconscionable" fact that the majority of Senate Republicans do not want any of these proposals to be debated or come up for a vote.
Other measures include bolstered background checks, a ban on high-capacity magazines, maintaining safe storage of firearms, and allowing for the liability of gun manufacturers for crimes committed using their products.
However, despite the alarming rate of gun violence, the US supreme court ruled in late June that American citizens have the fundamental right to carry arms in public.
The ruling constituted a victory for the National Rifle Association (NRA), and it is the first by the Supreme Court in a major Second Amendment case in a decade.
The Second Amendment to the US Constitution grants Americans the right to keep and bear arms.