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House Oversight chair unveils legislation to hold the firearm industry accountable

One measure, the Firearm Industry Fairness Act, would impose a 20% tax on revenues earned by manufacturers who produce assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney
Rep. Carolyn Maloney at a House hearing on July 27 on the practices and profits of gun manufacturers.Mariam Zuhaib / AP file

WASHINGTON — House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., introduced two pieces of legislation Friday that would hold the firearm industry accountable for selling "weapons of war" to civilians.

One measure, the Firearm Industry Fairness Act, would impose a 20% tax on the total revenue earned by manufacturers who produce assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Maloney said that the funds from the tax would be used for gun violence prevention efforts and to support shooting victims.

The other bill, the Firearm Industry Crime and Trafficking Accountability Act, would require every company that manufactures guns to create a system that tracks crimes committed with firearms they've sold, using data collected by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The legislation would "mandate that those manufacturers cease distributing weapons to a retailer when they have reason to believe that the guns sold by that retailer are being trafficked or used for criminal purposes," according to the committee.

After several mass shootings this year, including in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas; and Highland Park, Illinois, the committee launched an investigation into firearms manufacturers and sought information from the companies about their selling and marketing of AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles and similar firearms.

Last month, the panel held a hearing with executives from several gun manufacturers, including Sturm, Ruger & Co., Daniel Defense and Smith & Wesson Brands.

Maloney said in a letter to the executives that the information provided by gunmakers “has heightened the committee’s concern that your company is continuing to profit from the sale and marketing of weapons of war to civilians despite the harm these weapons cause."

With the midterm elections only about two months and a half away, it’s unclear if the legislative proposals will receive a floor vote in the House or the 50-50 Senate.

Maloney said she was motivated to craft the bills by the spate of mass shootings across the country this year. She unveiled them just days before her primary election against longtime colleague Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

"This summer, my Committee heard from those touched by gun violence in this country, including parents who lost their child, a doctor who lost his patients, and the mother of a young boy who lost his father," Maloney said in a statement. "These Americans, along with so many others from Uvalde, Buffalo, and Highland Park, urged Congress to take action to stop gun violence."

She added, "House Democrats have already passed a ban on assault weapons, but as we wait for the Senate to act, we must pursue other crucial reforms."

In June, President Joe Biden signed into law the most sweeping legislation aimed at preventing gun violence in 30 years at the White House. The law provides grants to states for “red flag” laws, enhances background checks to include juvenile records, and closes the “boyfriend loophole” by keeping guns away from unmarried dating partners convicted of abuse. It also requires enhanced background checks for people ages 18 to 21 and funding for youth mental health services.