WASHINGTON–U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced legislation directing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to study the dangers posed by unfair and deceptive marketing and advertising practices conducted by the gun industry. The Responsible Firearms Marketing Act would require the Commission to study the actions of gun manufacturers, importers, and dealers, including those which might target individuals younger than 18 years of age, encourage illegal use of a firearm, or relate to the sale of semiautomatic assault weapons.
The Responsible Firearms Marketing Act would also direct the FTC to apply existing rules regarding unfair marketing practices to firearm distributors, which include punitive fines and payment of damages to consumers for each knowing violation of the rules.
“The gun industry uses irresponsible marketing tactics – even targeting kids with ads for lethal weapons – to sell as many firearms as possible because their sole focus is maximizing profits. This legislation takes a step toward holding firearm manufacturers and sellers accountable for their dangerous advertising practices,” said Murphy.
“Deceptive firearms marketing exploits and fuels gun violence—and must be stopped. Our goal is to hold accountable gun manufacturers who prey on vulnerable consumers to fatten their profits. Turning a blind eye to these dishonest advertisements and promotional campaigns will continue to threaten public safety,” said Blumenthal. “Wrongdoers must be held accountable. Our legislation—along with the FTC’s enforcement—will prevent the industry from peddling these dangerous weapons of war by misleading buyers.”
Companion legislation was introduced in the House by U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (D-Ill.). The legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and U.S. Representatives U.S. Representatives Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.), Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).
The legislation has been endorsed by March For Our Lives, Brady, Giffords, Everytown for Gun Safety, and Sandy Hook Promise.
“The gun industry should be treated the exact same way as every other industry. They don’t deserve or need kid gloves. There is no excuse for any industry, let alone a deadly one like firearm manufacturers, to have legal immunity for potentially deceptive advertising and marketing,” said Zeenat Yahya, Director of Policy at March For Our Lives. “Even though we scrutinize other industries, like alcohol and tobacco, its practically the wild west for firearms manufacturers. It’s time to hold firearm advertising accountable for its role in the mass murder of Americans.”
“For too long the gun industry has been allowed to run rampant with their marketing practices that target children and teens. The result is a nation marred by senseless tragedies where guns are now the leading cause of death of children. It is past time for firearm manufacturers to be held accountable for their predatory practices, and Brady thanks Congresswoman Kelly and Senator Blumenthal for leading this important legislation,” said Kris Brown, President of Brady.
“It is unacceptable that the firearms industry has escaped oversight and regulation of its advertising for years. The industry has become emboldened to use deceptive tactics that exploit fear and instability to sell their deadly wares. Some companies even target children in their efforts to sell more guns. The Responsible Firearms Marketing Act sends a clear message: the gun industry is not above the law or the jurisdiction of the FTC. We applaud Congresswoman Kelly and Senator Blumenthal for their leadership on this issue,” said Adzi Vokhiwa, Giffords Federal Affairs Director.
“As plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Remington focused on the marketing of the firearm used in the Sandy Hook shooting, we applaud the introduction of the Responsible Firearms Marketing Act.,” said Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley, co-founders of Sandy Hook Promise and parents of Daniel Barden and Dylan Hockley, who were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. “We personally understand the devastating impact of irresponsible marketing of firearms, particularly toward young people. This legislation would help keep kids safe by ensuring the gun industry is held accountable for its marketing practices.”
Text of the Senate legislation can be found here.