Assault weapon sales generated more than $1 billion for gun makers over a decade, House panel says

Fire arms are seen at the Bobâs Little Sport Gun Shop in the town of Glassboro, New Jersey, United States on May 26, 2022. 

Tayfun Coskun | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Major gun manufacturers have made over $1 billion in the last decade selling military-style assault weapons, according to an investigation by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

A memo from the panel outlines manufacturers’ revenue and marketing strategies for assault-style weapons, focusing on the gun brands used in recent mass shootings. The release came ahead of a hearing Wednesday on the role of the firearm industry in pervasive gun violence in the United States.

Earnings from assault weapons more than doubled for brands like Smith & Wesson, Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Daniel Defense between 2019 and 2021, according to House findings. Sturm Ruger CEO Christopher Killoy, and Daniel Defense CEO Marty Daniel are set to testify at Wednesday’s hearing. Smith & Wesson CEO Mark Smith was invited but won’t attend.

At the hearing, committee chair Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., said the panel will issue subpoenas to Smith & Wesson and other manufacturers.

The committee also provided these estimated assault weapon revenues since 2012, the year a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut:

  • Smith & Wesson: $695 million
  • Sturm, Ruger & Co: $514 million
  • Daniel Defense: $528 million
  • SIG Sauer: Refused to report
  • Bushmaster: $2.9 million (2021 only)

The number of recent mass shooting deaths was also listed for each company, with assault weapons from all five brands used in at least two recent massacres. The gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers in May at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, used a weapon made by Daniel Defense.

The brands themselves do not track deaths, injuries or crimes that involve their weapons. Sig Sauer told the committee that it does “not have the means” to track deaths. Ruger said it learns of incidents through its “customer service department,” the media or from occasional lawsuits.

“These murders are local problems that have to be solved locally,” Daniel said to committee members Wednesday.

The hearing comes just after California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed a law allowing citizens affected by gun violence to sue manufacturers.

The committee also focused on marketing tactics, including Smith & Wesson advertisements that mimic first-person shooter video games and a Sig Sauer weapon sold as an “apex predator.”

House Democrats are pushing to vote on an assault weapons ban later this week. If passed, the bill is unlikely to make it through the Senate.

Smith & Wesson, Sig Sauer and Sturm Ruger did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(With inputs from CNBC)