No, Smith & Wesson isn't facing a "backlash" over CEO's comments

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Let’s be honest; most Americans are probably completely oblivious to the recent House Oversight Committee hearings targeting gun makers, much less the fact that Oversight chairwoman Carolyn Maloney issued a congressional subpoena against Smith & Wesson when its CEO declined to appear before the committee. It’s a big story for Second Amendment activists and the gun control lobby, but it’s also flying under the radar of most voters. So I had to laugh when I saw CNBC’s headline about Smith & Wesson CEO Mark Smith facing a “backlash” over his response to Maloney’s demands, because I’m not seeing any evidence of that anywhere.

As it turns out, the backlash that the news network describes appears to be limited to Maloney and her anti-gun allies; hardly a shocking development.

“The CEO of Smith & Wesson refused to testify before my Committee and face the families who’ve lost a loved one because of his company’s weapons of war,” Maloney said. “The Committee will not permit Smith & Wesson to dodge accountability or obscure the gun industry’s role in fueling our nation’s gun violence epidemic.”

The Oversight Committee has been investigating America’s firearm industry. According to the panel, major gun manufacturers including Smith & Wesson have made over $1 billion in the last decade selling military-style weapons through allegedly manipulative marketing practices.

Yeah, five gun companies collectively made $1-billion over a ten year period on the sale of modern sporting rifles. That’s not exactly a staggering figure, especially when you consider the money made in other industries. Cannabis sales, for instance, were estimated to be about $25-billion just last year. Even the kombucha market is valued at more than $2.5-billion per year, but then again, Maloney’s not trying to put Big Kombucha out of business or run for re-election by vowing to crack down on the cannabis industry.

Besides Maloney’s statement, the only other criticism of Smith & Wesson documented by CNBC was a brief comment by an executive with Everytown for Gun Safety who accused the company of being scared to testify. That certainly doesn’t appear to be the case, given that Smith & Wesson was apparently cooperating with the House Oversight Committee until Maloney started demanding all kinds of data that serves no legislative purpose whatsoever.

I think it’s fair to say that there’s no real backlash to Smith’s response to Maloney beyond gun control activists. So why did CNBC choose this particular narrative to run with? I suspect it’s editorial bias at work, particularly given this rather odd reference to Kyle Rittenhouse:

“Highland Park, Parkland, San Bernardino, Aurora — these mass murders were all committed with Smith & Wesson assault weapons,” Maloney said. “As the world watches the families of Parkland victims relive their trauma through the shooter’s trial, it is unconscionable that Smith & Wesson is still refusing to take responsibility for selling the assault weapons used to massacre Americans.”

Kyle Rittenhouse also used a Smith & Wesson rifle to kill two people and injured a third during a 2020 protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse was acquitted on all counts related to the shootings.

Why bring up Rittenhouse at all here, except to imply that he is somehow akin to the cowardly killers in places like Parkland, Florida and Aurora, Colorado?

This witch hunt by Maloney and House Democrats is political theater, but it’s also driven by a real animosity towards our Second Amendment rights.

There were 100,000 alcohol-related deaths in the United States last year; more than twice the number of gun-related deaths. Why isn’t Maloney demanding answers from Anheuser-Busch InBev or Constellation Brands (the largest beer import company in the U.S.) or calling automakers to Capitol Hill to accuse them of not giving a damn about those killed in drunk driving accidents?

Blaming gun makers for the actions of violent criminals doesn’t make sense, but it’s par for the course for the gun control lobby and their allies in Congress. If the courts won’t let them ban the keeping and bearing of arms then they’ll try to destroy our ability to acquire them by bankrupting the major manufacturers through junk lawsuits and criminalizing the possession of home-built guns. Even if Maloney is ousted in her upcoming primary there are going to be plenty of anti-gun Democrats in Congress to keep fanning these flames, but if Republicans do succeed in taking back the House this November they’ll at least be able to put a stop to this particular abuse of power aimed at our Second Amendment rights.