Guns are “inanimate objects,” murderers are the ones responsible, executives tell Congress

Mass shootings, however horrific they are, cannot be blamed on gun manufacturers, the CEOs of America’s two leading gun manufacturers told Congress on Wednesday. 

Appearing to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, founder and CEO of Georgia-based Daniel Defense Marty Daniel said he, his family, and his employees were “deeply disturbed” by the rampages committed in Uvalde, Buffalo, and Highland Park, Illinois, but argued the nation’s response to these acts should be “focused not on the type of gun, but on the type of persons who are likely to commit mass shootings.” 

“Lately many Americans, myself included, have witnessed an erosion of personal responsibility in our country and in our culture. Mass shootings were all but unheard of just a few decades ago,” Daniel said. 

“So, what changed? Not the firearms. They are substantially the same as those manufactured over 100 years ago. However, there is no doubt that our society has changed in significant ways,” he added. 

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When asked by committee chair Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) if he would “accept personal responsibility” for his company’s role in the Uvalde shooting, where the gunman used a Daniel Defense-produced rifle, Daniel said: “These acts are committed by murderers. Murderers are responsible,” before getting interrupted. 

Daniel was one of two gun company executives who agreed to testify at the committee’s hearing on the role of arms manufacturers in the rise of gun violence in the US. The other one was president and CEO of Sturm, Ruger & Co. Christopher Killoy who also refused to take the blame, saying the “firearm is an inanimate object.” 

Killoy emphasized his company produced “modern sporting rifles” which in no way could be considered “weapons of war.” 

Smith & Wesson President Mark Smith has reportedly declined the Oversight Committee’s request to testify. Maloney said a subpoena would be issued in the coming days to make him answer the committee’s questions. 

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Ahead of the hearing, the committee released a memo saying sales of AR-15-style assault weapons accounted for over $1 billion in sales by the country’s five leading manufacturers, which include Daniel Defense, Smith & Wesson, Bushmaster, Sig Sauer, and Sturm, Ruger & Co. 

The US is being plagued by what numerous lawmakers and outlets have described as an “epidemic” of gun violence. From January to early June, 247 mass shootings were reported in the country, 27 of them school shootings. 

On May 24, an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing 21 people, including 19 students. On July 4, a 21-year-old shooter killed seven people and injured 48 more during an Independence Day Parade in Highland Park, Illinois.

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