Smith & Wesson subpoenaed by House Committee

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, file)

Smith & Wesson once got in some hot water with gun owners. They reached an agreement with the Clinton-era Department of Housing and Urban Development and people were less than pleased.

I won’t get into the details because that’s ancient history with previous ownership.

Today, the company is quite different. Of course, now the company has been subpoenaed by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform subpoenaed firearm manufacturer Smith & Wesson on Tuesday after it refused to provide the panel with information about its revenue and business tactics.

The committee, which is investigating the firearm industry after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, in May, is demanding documents about the company’s manufacture and sale of AR-15-style assault weapons. Smith & Wesson refused to disclose this information voluntarily.

“This subpoena was made necessary by your unwillingness to voluntarily comply with the Committee’s investigation, including your refusal to testify about your company’s troubling business practices at the Committee’s July 27, 2022, hearing and your refusal to voluntarily produce key information about your company’s sale of assault weapons to civilians,” committee chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

Mark Smith, the company’s CEO and president, backed out of a previous commitment to testify before Congress, the Oversight Committee said Tuesday.

“Mr. Smith initially accepted the invitation to appear, but abruptly withdrew from the hearing only five days before it was set to occur — despite the Committee’s good-faith efforts to secure his voluntary participation,” a press release from the committee said.

And why should Smith or his company play nice with the committee?

Understand, this isn’t a good-faith effort to find out what happened in Uvalde. They’re not looking for common ground, a way we can all work together to prevent another such tragedy.

This is a witch hunt.

The effort here is to get Smith & Wesson’s business documents and comb over them, looking for anything they’re doing that can be painted in a negative light in an effort to make the company look evil.

Why would they comply with polite requests when we all know that’s the endgame?

Hell, it’s not like the committee is even hiding that fact, either:

“Your company collects hundreds of millions of dollars selling assault weapons that are used in mass shootings, including the horrific murder of seven Americans and the wounding of dozens more during a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois,” Maloney added.

Now, there’s zero indication that Smith & Wesson did anything illegal. In fact, they didn’t even sell that weapon directly to the Highland Park killer. He bought it at a local gun store, which Smith & Wesson has no power over, yet Maloney and her committee are looking to pin all of this on manufacturers.

We’ve seen this playbook before.

The tobacco industry went through something very similar some time back. The difference was that the tobacco industry was selling a product it knew to be dangerous to its consumers, then sat on that information for decades so as to not hurt their bottom line.

The firearm industry has never pretended its products are safe. I mean, the fact that they’re dangerous is kind of the point. They can saddle a company like Smith & Wesson with anything like that.

Frankly, I respect the hell out of Smith’s refusal to play nice with the committee. They’re going to try and blame him for at least Highland Park and blame his industry for every other mass shooting that’s ever happened. There’s no advantage in cooperating.

Now, unfortunately, he has a choice. He either has to comply or face contempt of Congress charges. Personally, “contempt of Congress” sounds more like a patriotic duty than a criminal charge, but apparently, it is and it comes with less than a year in jail and a fine somewhere between $100 and $100,000.

I suspect he’ll comply, but I respect him for basically looking at the committee and saying, “Make me.”