Connecticut’s U.S. senators were among a dozen Democrats who urged federal regulators on Monday to investigate the advertising practices of firearm manufacturers, who they allege have appealed to teenagers through references to popular video games and other media.
U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy signed onto a letter, which asked Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan to investigate and consider regulating “unfair and deceptive” advertising by gun makers.
In the letter, the group cited marketing by Daniel Defense, the manufacturer of the rifle used during the May murder of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Since the shooting, the company has been scrutinized for its marketing, which has featured photos of celebrities holding its products and references to Call of Duty games.
“The industry regularly and routinely makes false and misleading representations about firearm safety and unfairly exploits children and teenagers through unfair and deceptive marketing practices, including targeting teenagers, particularly young men, with advertising for military-style weapons,” the group of lawmakers wrote. “Time and again, these practices have had deadly consequences.”
Monday’s letter follows similar complaints made in recent months by the gun control advocacy group, Everytown For Gun Safety, as well as the $73 million settlement in February between Remington Arms and the families of nine victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. That case rested largely on Remington’s marketing of the AR-15 rifle used in the shooting.
In their letter, the senators said that regulation of the marketing produced by gun manufacturers would conform with the agency’s long standing review of other industries.
“Since the 1940s, the FTC has brought enforcement actions against tobacco companies for unfair and deceptive claims over the health and safety of cigarettes—most prominently with its lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds over the use of the Joe Camel cartoon to market to children,” the senators wrote. “The same should be done here with respect to the firearms industry and the unsubstantiated claims it has made—and continues to make—in its advertisements.”
A media contact for Georgia-based Daniel Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.
However, in a blog post dated Aug. 22, the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action argued that a petition asking the FTC to investigate the advertising of gun makers defied “serious rebuttal.”
“It takes a very tortured reading of the First and Second Amendments to conclude that the Second guarantees the right of Americans to protect themselves from victimization, but the First doesn’t protect the right of firearm manufactures to tell law-abiding Americans about their right to do so,” the NRA-ILA post read.
In addition to Blumenthal and Murphy, the letter to the FTC was signed by 10 other Democrats including Sens. Cory Booker, D-NJ, Dick Durbin, D-IL, Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, Edward Markey, D-MA, Alex Padilla, D-CA, Jack Reed, D-RI, Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI.