Relatives of America’s gun violence victims have told Sky News of their disappointment and anger after listening to exchanges between politicians and gun firm bosses at a congressional hearing in Washington
“They have no heart. If it was their child they would be moving mountains to get these laws changed. Honestly,” Javier Cazares said. He lost his daughter in the Uvalde shooting in May.
He spoke to Sky News after sitting through testimony from the chief executives of two of America’s top gun manufacturers.
The CEOs of Daniel Defense and Sturm, Ruger & Co. were giving evidence to politicians on Capitol Hill in the latest hearing to examine possible reforms to gun laws.
The two men condemned the attacks in Buffalo, New York, Uvalde in Texas; and Highland Park, Illinois, while testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform but rejected any suggestion that they should share some responsibility.
Marty Daniel, the boss of Daniel Defense which makes the AR-15 rifle type used in the Uvalde shooting called mass shootings “local problems” that cannot be blamed on “inanimate” firearms.
“How many more American children need to die before your company will stop selling assault weapons to children and civilians?” he was asked by Carolyn Maloney, Democratic Chair of the House Oversight Committee.
“I believe that these murders are a local problems that have be solved locally,” Mr Daniel said.
‘You from your ivory tower in DC, you know better!’
Over several hours, the familiar partisan lines were drawn.
Republican congressman Clay Higgins from Louisiana reacted angrily to any attempt by Democratic politicians to changes gun laws.
“You from your ivory tower in DC, you know better!” he said sarcastically.
“We carry light arms. We own them. We own them legally. And we intend to keep them.”
Pro-gun Republican politicians supported the manufacturers in angry exchanges with the reformists on the Democratic side as the victims relatives watched on.
Some Democratic Party politicians produced copies of advertising by the gun companies to demonstrate what they say is wholly irresponsible and reprehensible marketing.
One tweet from Daniel Defense shows a young child being handed military-style rifle by an adult.
Another shows a weapon produced by the the company next an image showing a street through a telescopic lens.
“Mr Daniel, this advertisement appears to depict premeditated violence or murder from a rooftop,” Democratic congressman Raja Keishnamoorthi said to the Daniel Defense boss.
The gunman in the 4 July Illinois mass shooting used a similar weapon and a rooftop to murder and injure.
Another advert shows images of professional soldiers with the words: “Use what they use”.
‘Can this fire bullets that shred people’s vital organs?’
Also answering the politician’s questions was Ryan Busse, a former gun company boss who described himself as a gun owner who advocates responsible gun ownership.
“Any rational person can see direct lines from this marketing to the troubled young men who kill people in places like Buffalo, El Paso and Uvalde,” Mr Busse said.
Congresswoman Katie Porter asked why firearms don’t come with a biometric fingerprint lock.
Holding up her iPhone with its biometric unlock function, she said: “Can this fire bullets that shred people’s vital organs?”
“No congresswoman it can’t,” Christopher Killroy, Sturm Ruger’s CEO replied.
“Then why should this device require more steps to operate than your company’s firearms which have been used in accidental shootings, mass shootings and homicides?” she asked.
The committee revealed that gun companies made more then $1bn over the last 10 years selling the powerful military-style weapons. A memo from the panel details revenue and marketing strategies for assault-style weapons.
The manufacturers and the politicians who back them say that is the people not their guns who are to blame.