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JEC Releases New Report on Gun Company Profits at Expense of American Lives

The JEC released a new report highlighting how the gun industry is profiting off of gun violence. This report, which makes the case that gun companies are locked in a dangerous “race to the bottom” in products and practices that is creating a cycle of violence, comes amid growing momentum to hold gunmakers accountable for the enormous toll of gun violence on our society and on our economy.

Among the key findings:

  • In a self-perpetuating cycle, gun sales have driven a corresponding increase in gun violence, which has driven an increase in gun sales. It is a well-documented trend that gun sales and share prices of gun and ammunition companies rise after mass shootings, and the ATF has documented that guns sold in 2020 were more likely to wind up at crime scenes within a year of purchase than in any previous period.
  • Amid plateauing sales in the early 2000s, the gun industry took action to revive its sales, lobbying for the successful passage of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which granted gun manufacturers and sellers immunity from legal accountability for the harms caused by their product. 
  • The protection from accountability has facilitated the launch of a new and booming market for increasingly lethal weapons, and the firearm industry has met the growing demand by flooding the market with products that had previously been seen exclusively as weapons of war.

With the release of the report, JEC Chairman Don Beyer (D-VA) released the following statement: 

“As was made clear in the Joint Economic Committee’s recent hearing on the economic toll of gun violence, the firearms industry has garnered extraordinary and increasing profits from our national tragedy. Gun manufacturers make hundreds of millions of dollars every year, while the epidemic of gun violence costs our economy more than a half a trillion dollars annually. This report highlights a boom in gun sales that has been driven by deliberate marketing tactics that sow fear and division in our society—a boom that feeds off itself by spurring violence that further stokes that same fear and division.

“These shameful and irresponsible practices occur behind a wall of impunity granted to the gun industry—by the NRA and its allies in Congress—in the form of immunity from civil lawsuits for the illegal use of their products. It is long past time to end that impunity by repealing PLCAA and to pass an excise tax that ensures the price of the deadliest weapons to begin to reflect their true societal costs.”

Last week, the Chairman Beyer and the JEC held a hearing on the economic toll of gun violence and published an accompanying report that highlighted the widespread and long-lasting economic effects of gun violence on everything from health care to education, business development to housing.

Chairman Beyer previously introduced the Assault Weapons Excise Act, reconciliation-ready legislation that would impose a 1000% excise tax on manufacturers, importers, or producers of assault weapons and high capacity magazines. He is also a co-sponsor of the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act, which would repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act that grants gun manufacturers and sellers immunity from legal accountability for the harms caused by their products.