Senate Democrats Call on FTC to Ban Marketing Guns to Kids

February 2, 2023

A group of Democrats were set to introduce legislation in the Senate Thursday to direct the Federal Trade Commission to create rules banning the marketing of firearms to children.

The legislation comes about a week after the Democrats called on the FTC to investigate the marketing of the JR-15 .22 Long Rifle by the gun manufacturer Wee 1 Tactical. 

The Protecting Kids from Gun Marketing Act would give the FTC the power to go after gun manufacturers who market to minors in the same way regulations are already in place that ban the marketing of products such as alcohol and tobacco to minors, according to the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). 

The bill, however, has little chance of becoming law as Republicans, who hold the majority in the House, have long opposed most gun control and gun reform measures, arguing they infringe on Americans’ 2nd Amendment rights. 

The debate may be playing out differently on the state level, though. About a year ago, the families of nine victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre won a legal settlement in Connecticut against Remington Arms Company that focused on the gun manufacturer’s marketing practices—in particular how it marketed and advertised its AR-15.

Marking the first time a gun manufacturer was held liable for a mass shooting in the U.S., the plaintiffs argued that Remington had violated Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act, and alleged wrongful death by the gunmaker for selling military style assault weapons to the civilian market.

Since the Sandy Hook victims’ suit, several states, including California and New Jersey, have introduced consumer protection measures restricting gun marketing similar to Connecticut’s. 

In January, gun groups lost an initial bid to block California’s new law banning the marketing of guns and other firearms to minors.

Just this Tuesday, however, a federal judge blocked a New Jersey law that would allow the state’s Attorney General to sue gun sellers and manufacturers if they endanger public safety through their sales or marketing practices.

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