House Dems target gun makers with public hearing

House Democrats aren’t giving up on making gun control one of their central issues for the midterms, even as the economy and inflation dominate the minds of voters.

The latest? House Oversight Committee is calling on the CEOs of several major gun companies to testify on Capitol Hill in a politically-motivated witch hunt that appears designed to scapegoat the firearms industry and blame it for the actions of criminals.

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), the committee’s chairwoman, on Wednesday sent letters to Marty Daniel, the CEO of Daniel Defense, Mark Smith, the president and CEO of Smith & Wesson Brands, and Christopher Killoy, the president and CEO of Sturm, Ruger & Co., requesting testimony as a part of a second hearing hosted by the committee examining the firearms industry.

Daniel Defense is the maker of the DDM4 rifle the gunman used to kill 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Tex., and a shooter on Monday used a Smith & Wesson M&P semiautomatic rifle to kill at least seven people and wound dozens of others during a July Fourth parade in Highland Park, Ill.

The July 20 hearing comes after Maloney launched an investigation into gun manufacturers in May. Maloney requested information from five manufacturers regarding the making, sale and marketing of deadly weapons used in mass shootings that were purchased legally and used by the gunmen responsible for the carnage in Uvalde, Highland Park and Buffalo.

Maloney requested each company’s gross revenue and profit from sales of semiautomatic rifles based on AR-15-style guns, annual spending on advertising and marketing of these rifles, annual spending on federal and state lobbying, and funding provided to the National Rifle Association. Maloney cites new financial information that has been provided to the committee so far as reason for the CEOs to appear.

“The information you provided has heightened the Committee’s concern that your company is continuing to profit from the sale and marketing of weapons of war to civilians despite the harm these weapons cause, is failing to track instances or patterns where your products are used in crimes, and is failing to take other reasonable precautions to limit injuries and deaths caused by your firearms,” Maloney wrote in a letter to Killoy, provided to The Washington Post.

With such an open-minded and non-partisan invitation, how could these CEOs refuse to show up for Maloney’s dog-and-pony show?

The New York Democrat has every reason to try to make gun companies villains in the eyes of the public. Not only have Democrats decided that their best bet to stem an expected red wave election is to focus on guns and abortion while downplaying our imploding economy, but Maloney herself faces the toughest primary fight of her political life in August, when she’ll square off against Rep. Jerry Nadler for the nomination in NY-12. Thanks to redistricting, the two longterm congressional Democrats are vying for the same seat, and I’m sure that Maloney and her campaign staff would love to cut an ad or two ahead of the primary featuring her accusing Marty Daniels and other CEOs of aiding and abetting the murder of innocent civilians to curry favor with the gun-control loving voters in Manhattan.

Whether or not the CEOs show up, Maloney and her fellow Democrats will use them as punching bags during their next act of political theater. If the CEOs do appear, they’ll face hostile questions designed to elict the applause of Democrats’ progressive base, and if they decline to show up Maloney and her cohorts will portray them as cowards unwilling to face “commonsense” and “reasonable” questions from lawmakers; a narrative that will be eagerly repeated by many in the national media.

I know what would do in that situation, but Daniels, Smith, and Killoy are probably not going to tell Maloney to kiss their rear ends and go pound sand… at least in those words. There’s little upside to these CEOs volunteering themselves for Maloney’s witch hunt, however, and I hope their response to Maloney is to politely decline to take part in her attempt to blame gun makers and law-abiding gun owners for the actions of cowardly mass murderers and violent criminals, while offering to take part in an honest conversation about the industry’s efforts to prevent straw purchases and other illicit means of obtaining firearms. There’s a lot to discuss, but as long as Maloney and her anti-gun allies on the Oversight Committee are really interested in using these CEOs as political pawns in their re-election bids, there’s also no reason for these CEOs to play along.

Aug 18, 2022 5:30 PM ET