Smith & Wesson CEO Faces Backlash After He Blamed Politicians For Gun Violence

Conference participants review weapons at the Smith and Wesson booth last April at the 2015 NRA Annual Convention in Nashville, Tenn.

Karen Bleier | AFP | beautiful pictures

After releasing a statement earlier this week blamed politicians for the rise in gun violence, Smith & Wesson Chief Executive Officer Mark Smith is facing fresh backlash weeks after he refused to testify at a House hearing alongside top executives from other arms manufacturers. .

Smith on Monday said his company “will never back down from our defense of the Second Amendment,” accusing politicians and the media of reporting on the abuse. An increase in gun violence is happening across the country. The National Rifle Association, the nation’s leading gun advocacy group, posted the full statement on website.

“A number of politicians and their lobbying partners in the media have recently sought to disparage Smith & Wesson,” Smith wrote.

Oversight Committee Chairman Carolyn Maloney, DN.Y., denied his remarks in a statement to CNBC on Wednesday, accusing him of seeking to protect the company’s profits.

“The CEO of Smith & Wesson declined to testify before my Committee and came face to face with the families who lost loved ones to his company’s weapons of war,” Maloney said. “The Commission will not allow Smith & Wesson to shirk accountability or obscure the role of the gun industry in fueling our nation’s gun violence pandemic.”

The Oversight Committee investigated the US arms industry. According to the council, major gun manufacturers including Smith & Wesson have made more than $1 billion over the past decade from selling military-style weapons through alleged manipulative marketing practices.

“Highland Park, Parkland, San Bernardino, Aurora – these mass murders were all committed with a Smith & Wesson assault weapon,” Maloney said. “As the world watches the families of Parkland victims relive their grief through the trial of the shooter, it is unconscionable that Smith & Wesson still refuses to take responsibility for the sale of the deadly weapons. used to massacre Americans.”

Kyle Rittenhouse also used a Smith & Wesson rifle to kill two people and injure a third during a 2020 protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges related to the shooting.

The Everytown Gun Safety nonprofit also criticized Smith’s statement.

“The rhetoric of Smith & Wesson – and their CEO skipping a congressional hearing – tells me they’re scared,” said Nick Suplina, Everytown’s executive director for Gun Safety said.

CNBC has reached out to Smith & Wesson for further comment.

In July, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing with the CEOs of major gun manufacturers Sturm, Ruger & Company and Daniel Defense. They defended their business, arguing that the focus should be on shooters and mental health reform. Smith was also set to appear at the hearing but withdrew just five days earlier, according to the committee documents.

The commission issued a subpoena to Smith & Wesson for documents related to the manufacture and sale of their AR-15-style guns.

Smith, in his statement on Monday, said politicians have “defamed, undermined and smeared law enforcement for years, supporting prosecutors’ refusal to hold criminals accountable. accountable for their actions, monitor the deterioration of our nation’s mental health infrastructure, and generally promote a culture of defiance of the law.”

He did not name any politicians.

Everytown on Gun Safety has engaged in a 2020 complaint against Smith & Wesson with the Federal Trade Commission. The group accused the company of using deceptive and unfair practices to market the rifle to young, male consumers.

“For too long, they have been allowed to shirk any responsibility for their role in our nation’s gun violence pandemic and the atrocities committed against their products. There, they did everything they could to sell more guns to more people than people, the consequences were terrifying. But the American people have suffered too much,” said Suplina.

Smith & Wesson is due to report next quarter earnings on September 7. The company’s stock is down more than 13% so far this year.

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