SPRINGFIELD — Gunmaker Smith & Wesson told Congress Monday that it won’t say exactly how many AR-15-style rifles it sells or how much money it makes selling them.
Smith & Wesson refused Monday to tell the House Oversight Committee chaired by U.S. Rep Carolyn B. Maloney, D-New York, what analysis is done on the use of its AR platform and similar rifles in mass shootings or other homicides. It also refused to disclose what analysis is done into how its own advertising plays into the shootings.
Maloney’s committee also asked last month, after Smith & Wesson CEO Mark P. Smith declined to speak at a hearing, for all internal Smith & Wesson communications regarding four mass shootings including the shooting at at the Highland Park, Illinois, July 4th parade that killed seven.
In a letter provided to The Republican, Smith & Wesson attorney Mark R. Paoletta said that last question about mass shootings was designed to punish and embarrass Smith & Wesson.
And he pointed to publicly available data that Smith & Wesson’s revenue from all long guns, which include AR-15- style rifles, more than doubled between 2019 and 2021, from $108 million to $253 million. That information should be sufficient to let lawmakers do their jobs, he wrote.
Instead of speaking to Congress, Smith & Wesson CEO and President Mark P. Smith struck a defiant tone in a message released Monday to firearms-friendly media members.
Smith answered questions Monday afternoon by providing copies of Smith & Wesson’s response to Maloney and the committee.
In that message, Smith accused unnamed politicians and the media of trying to hamper Smith & Wesson’s ability to advertise in a way “designed to remind law-abiding citizens that they have a Constitutional right to bear arms in defense of themselves and their families.”
“To be clear, a Smith & Wesson firearm has never broken into a home; a Smith & Wesson firearm has never assaulted a woman out for a late-night run in the city; a Smith & Wesson firearm has never carjacked an unsuspecting driver stopped at a traffic light.”
Smith also wrote: “We will never back down in our defense of the 2nd Amendment.”
That’s historically been a sore topic for Smith & Wesson. In 2000, Previous Smith & Wesson management made a deal with the Clinton administration to implement “smart gun” technology; create a system of authorized dealers nationwide to do background checks; and end “straw” purchases, where someone can fraudulently buy a gun on behalf of people barred from owning guns.
Fierce backlash led by the NRA almost destroyed the company.
Monday, NRA-backed organs disseminated Mark Smith’s statement.
At a hearing last month, Maloney called out Smith & Wesson for “marketing to children, preying on young men’s insecurities and even appealing to violent white supremacists”
New Jersey’s Attorney General and others have challenged Smith & Wesson’s marketing in court.
Smith & Wesson has much of its 170-year history rooted here in Springfield. But last year it announced plans to move its headquarters, distribution and some manufacturing to Tennessee. At issue was a proposed state law in Massachusetts that would have banned the manufacture of military-style semi automatics like those in the AR-15 platform here.
Smith told investors in June that the company is making steady progress and remains on track for completion in the second half of 2023. He declined to comment further in an email Monday.
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