Friday, April 8, 2022

Petition Asks For F.T.C. Inquiry Into Gun Marketing

Gun Control Advocates are Petitioning the Federal Trade Commission (F.T.C.) today, to Investigate and Regulate the Firearms Industry as it has with Tobacco, alleging that Gun Nanufacturers use Deceptive Advertising practices.

The Petition is the latest salvo aimed at the Marketing Tactics, of an industry that has largely been Protected from Liability, for the Harms of its Products because of Federal Laws. The groups urging action by the F.T.C. include: Brady, the Giffords Law Center, March for Our Lives, and the FACT Coalition.

Gun Marketing Promotes an Illusion of Safety, the Petitioners say. Americans have “been falsely led to believe that gun ownership is a safe way to protect their home and family,” they argue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) reported 45,222 deaths from Gun-related Injuries in 2020. The F.T.C. “has effectively given the gun industry a free pass,” the Petitioners say.

Advocates have asked the F.T.C. to investigate the Gun industry before, starting in 1996. The F.T.C. can choose to Address or Ignore this latest Petition, which comes as the Biden Administration has expressed Support for more Transparency on Gun Manufacturers’ operations, and State-Level Lawsuits have begun to break through the Industry’s Barriers to Litigation.

In February, the Families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting Victims, settled a Suit for $73 million against Remington that alleged the Gun Maker’s aggressive Marketing Violated Connecticut Law, by promoting Firearms to troubled Men like the One responsible for the Massacre. The Settlement opens Internal Company Documents to Scrutiny, which would offer a rare view into how Gun Makers like Remington develop their Marketing Messages. President Biden described it as a step in “holding gun manufacturers accountable for manufacturing weapons of war and irresponsibly marketing these firearms.”

Last year, a New Jersey Judge ruled in favor of the State’s Attorney General in a Lawsuit, against Smith & Wesson for its Advertising Practices, requiring the Company to release Internal Documents. The Ruling was recently Overturned, leaving the State’s Lawsuit intact, but the Release of Documents uncertain. Smith & Wesson said in a Filing that the Suit sought to “suppress and punish lawful speech regarding gun ownership in order to advance an anti-Second Amendment agenda.”

The F.T.C.’s Enforcement of Federal Consumer Protection Law could look to these State Precedents, like the Connecticut Consumer Law that allowed the Sandy Hook Families to Sue. “If a company violates the consumer protection laws with false advertisements, that is not protected activity,” said David Pucino of the Giffords Law Center. “They are breaking the law.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

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