Smith & Wesson's CEO is faulting "politicians and their lobbying partners in the media" for increased gun violence across the U.S., saying weapons manufacturers are being unfairly blamed.
The written comments by Mark Smith, posted Monday in a statement on the company's website, came weeks after the executive refused to testify before the House Oversight Committee, which is investigating the firearms industry in the wake of multiple mass shootings. The panel began its probe in late May after a total of 31 people died in mass shootings at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, within a two-week period.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D.-N.Y., the panel's chair, has subpoenaed Smith & Wesson for information about the manufacture, sale and marketing of the military-style semi-automatic rifles used in the shootings.
Smith & Wesson and four other gunmakers have generated more than $1 billion in revenue from selling such firearms to civilians over the past decade, the panel found, citing data provided by manufacturers.
But Smith sought to portray lawmakers and journalists as responsible for gun deaths.
"They are the ones to blame for the surge in violence and lawlessness, and they seek to avoid any responsibility for the crisis of violence they have created," he wrote.
"We will never back down in our defense of the Second Amendment," Smith declared in his statement, which was also posted in full by the National Rifle Association on its website.
The executive's words drew a strong rebuke from Maloney.
"It is unconscionable that Smith & Wesson is still refusing to take responsibility for selling the assault weapons used to massacre Americans. Clearly, Smith & Wesson will do anything to protect the enormous profits it collects selling deadly assault weapons," Maloney stated on Thursday in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. "The committee will not permit Smith & Wesson to dodge accountability or obscure the gun industry's role in fueling our nation's gun violence epidemic."
Smith & Wesson did not respond to a request for comment.
The company in June reported net income of $36.1 million on sales of $181.3 million for the fourth quarter and profits of $194.5 million on sales of $864.1 million for fiscal 2022. Smith & Wesson shares are down roughly 14% on the year.