WASHINGTON (WTNH) — New legislation hopes to hold the gun industry accountable by studying what’s being called unfair and deceptive marketing.
“These kinds of ads that target young people ought to be stopped,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said.
Blumenthal and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) have introduced the Responsible Firearms Marketing Act, which directs the Federal Trade Commission to look at marketing and advertising practices of gun manufacturers, importers and dealers, including those who might:
- Target individuals younger than 18 years of age
- Encourage illegal use of a firearm
- Relate to the sale of semiautomatic assault weapons
“Advertising weapons of mass destruction to our kids is absolutely devastating and disgusting,” Blumenthal said.
The proposal would also direct the FTC to apply existing rules regarding unfair marketing practices to firearm distributors, which include punitive fines and payment damages to consumers.
“We’ve seen this with the tobacco industry,” said Dr. Pina Violano, a member of the Connecticut Commission on Community Gun Violence Intervention and Prevention. “If you think about all those ads that targeted kids and were effective taking those down. I think this will have the same effect.”
This legislation has been backed by advocates and groups. Sandy Hook Promise is one of them.
Sandy Hook Promise co-founders Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden were plaintiffs in a lawsuit against gun maker Remington, which was focused on the marketing of the firearm using in the Sandy Hook shooting. The two parents said:
“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.”
But there’s been pushback to the proposal. The Firearm Industry Trade Association, released a statement to News 8 writing in part:
This legislation demonstrates that Senators Murphy and Blumenthal, along with the other co-sponsors of this misguided legislation, aren’t content with trampling on the Second Amendment rights of Americans but are attempting to twist the levers of government to squelch First Amendment free speech as well.
As for what’s next, the bill was introduced last week and will head to the Judiciary Committee for markup. It’ll need to pass out of committee to be considered by the full U.S. Senate.