Smith and Wesson CEO Mark Smith issued a defiant statement criticizing politicians and the news media for violent crime. The words came amid a congressional investigation into gun manufacturers, after back-to-back mass shootings in which Smith accused politicians of trying to disparage his company and blame the trend on gunmakers, Washington Post states. Smith refused to testify before the House Oversight Committee and said politicians had “vilified, undermined and defunded law enforcement,” causing a wave of crime. After Smith’s refusal to testify, the House committee subpoenaed documents on Smith & Wesson sale and marketing of AR-15-style rifles. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) wrote that the company told the committee that it makes no effort to track injury, deaths or crimes associated with such weapons. Smith said that politicians were trying to pass laws to restrict the Second Amendment and prohibit “advertising products in a manner designed to remind law-abiding citizens that they have a Constitutional right to bear arms in defense of themselves and their families.”
The House Oversight Committee probe into gun manufacturers began in late May, after mass shootings at a Buffalo grocery store and an elementary school in Uvalde, Tx., left 31 people dead in less than two weeks. Homicide rates dropped slightly in the first half of this year compared with 2021 and yet they are still almost 40 percent higher than totals before the pandemic, says the think tank Council on Criminal Justice. Gun deaths have spiked. Between 2020 and 2021 there were 45,000 fatalities resulting from guns, the highest number recorded since 1995. The increase came as gun purchases also hit record levels. Incidents in which four or more people are killed represent a small fraction of gun violence. However, such incidents are increasing, and they capture widespread attention because of the toll they take on Americans’ psyches, creating fear of being in public places.