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Blumenthal and Murphy introduce legislation to stop dangerous gun marketing

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) holds an ad from Bushmaster Firearms.
Molly Ingram
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) holds an ad from Bushmaster Firearms.

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy (D-CT) have introduced legislation that would hold gun manufacturers accountable for dangerous marketing.

According to Blumenthal, the companies are glorifying weapons of mass destruction to teenage boys.

“All these companies that sell military style assault weapons appeal to that sense of manhood or lack of it,” Blumenthal said. “That is often the reason that these young men commit massacres and mass killings. These kinds of ads that target young people ought to be stopped, and they can be stopped.”

The Responsible Firearms Marketing Act would require the Federal Trade Commission to study the dangers of gun marketing and fine distributors that market unfairly.

Blumenthal said the Sandy Hook families set a precedent for holding manufacturers accountable when they sued Remington. The families of none Sandy Hook victims sued the company for selling the assault weapon that was used in the 2012 shooting.

“As we know from the Sandy Hook families legal action against Remington, it is possible to recover for deceptive and misleading marketing under our consumer protection law,” Blumenthal said. “And that's why the FTC has an obligation to act here.”

Blumenthal is hopeful that his legislation will receive bipartisan support. He said responsible gun owners should not want weapons in the hands of children.

“Responsible gun owners ought to be dead set against this kind of appeal to the frailties or vulnerabilities of young men who are developing personalities,” Blumenthal said. “That's not a responsible gun owner's view of what ads should be. It isn't about the weapon. It's about the vulnerability of the young man who is targeted by these ads.”

Connecticut Violence Intervention Program Executive Director Leonard Jahadis works with kids and young adults aged 13-24.

He said the ads are influential to young men in urban communities.

“The population that we work with has experienced anxiety, trauma and depression," Jahadis said. "And oftentimes, confrontation is meted out to violence.”

The legislation has been endorsed by March For Our Lives, Everytown for Gun Safety and Sandy Hook Promise.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.