April 12, 2022 – Last week Brady United, Giffords Law Center, March for Our Lives, and the Firearms Accountability Task Force filed a petition with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) requesting an investigation into the firearms industry’s advertising practices. The petitioners allege that firearm industry members engage in false and misleading advertising by suggesting that firearms are a safe and effective means of home and self defense. In support of these claims, they cite to handpicked studies that suggest keeping a firearm in the home or carrying one concealed purportedly increases the risk of accidental death and injury, and increases the risk of suicide. The petitioners are asking the FTC to investigate the industry and require firearm industry members to disclose in their advertisements the purported safety, legal, and other alleged risks they believe are associated with firearm possession.
The FTC has sole discretion as to whether it will pursue an investigation of the firearms industry and it has no obligation to publicly respond to the petition. This is not the first time anti-gun groups have turned to the FTC in an effort to enforce their agenda. In June of 2020, Brady United and Everytown submitted a complaint to the FTC calling for an investigation of Smith & Wesson’s advertising and promotion of its M&P line of rifles. In August of 2021 Brady United and Everytown submitted a joint letter to the FTC renewing their 2020 complaint and requesting that the FTC investigate Smith & Wesson’s marketing practices regarding use of third-party social media “influencers.” To date, it does not appear that the FTC has commenced an investigation in response to either the 2020 complaint or the 2021 letter. Back in 1996, Brady United filed a similar petition with the FTC demanding that it ban advertisements that suggest a handgun will increase the safety and security of the consumer and his or her family in the home. The FTC did not take any public action in response to that petition.
Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor these continued attacks on the firearms industry as well as any potential action taken by the FTC in response to the petition. Our firm provides guidance and consultation to the industry regarding advertising and marketing practices to ensure compliance with applicable state and federal laws. If you have any questions, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.