Social maker

Manufacturer of weapon used in Uvalde shooting, Daniel Defense accused of targeting ‘at risk’ young men

Gun control advocates filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, asking it to investigate the business practices of Daniel Defense, the maker of a rifle used by the shooter in the deadly operation Uvalde elementary school shooting.

In a July 15 complaint filed with the FTC, the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety alleges that Daniel Defense violates the law by “marketing assault weapons in the civilian market with violent and militaristic imagery” and “attracting especially the impulsive thrill seekers.” tendencies of sensitive teenagers and young men who are attracted to violence and military fantasies.”

Uvalde’s shooter, who killed 19 schoolchildren and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, legally purchased two AR-style rifles shortly after turning 18. One of those rifles was a Daniel Defense product, which, according to the complaint, was marketed by the gunmaker as “extremely maneuverable and easy to move.” barriers,” which the group claims is “a more apt description for combat, as opposed to hunting or target shooting.”

The lawsuit also accuses Daniel Defense of marketing its weapons through first-person shooter video games such as “Call of Duty” and through social media images with pop culture elements appealing to teens and teens. children, like a post of musician Post Malone holding a Daniel Defense rifle.

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“What this is is direct advertising to young people to buy weapons of war,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, told CBS News’ Catherine Herridge.

Daniel Defense did not respond to a CBS News request for comment. The FTC said it does not comment on individual cases.

Marketing targets teens and young adults

Gun control advocates and experts say guns like the AR style gun used in the Uvalde school shooting and other recent mass shootings are often marketed on social media through posts designed to appeal to young adults and teens. Messaging often seeks to label gun owners as tough and ready to deal with home intruders and other threats.

Since the Uvalde school shooting, Daniel Défense’s marketing has is subject to special scrutiny to target teenagers and young men. His Instagram account features photos of members of the military holding their guns, as well as celebrities such as actor Josh Brolin in “Sicario 2” as well as Post Malone brandishing his wares.

Among Gunsmith’s favorite hashtags are #gunporn and #pewpew, the latter referring to the sound effect of guns in TV shows and cartoons. The company also often posts depictions of young men holding the company’s firearms. Daniel Defense and other arms manufacturers have an offer payment plans to help consumers buy their guns – which can cost upwards of $2,000 – in installments.

Such posts were made to appeal to the Uvalde shooter and others like him, according to the complaint.

“He was described as a lonely teenager with an unstable home life who displayed violent and self-harming tendencies” and was a fan of “Call of Duty,” according to the complaint. “In short, the shooter was both at risk of violence and aligned with the young, male demographic that – as noted above – appears to be targeted by Daniel Defense’s marketing content and placement.”

The complaint alleges that Daniel Defense engages in “unfair and/or deceptive” marketing practices under the FTC law, which prohibits advertisements that “promote or model the unsafe or illegal use of potentially harmful products.”

There have been successful cases in which consumer laws have been used to prosecute arms manufacturers. A recent $73 million settlement for the Families of Sandy Hook Victims came after attorneys pursued a legal strategy claiming that marketing the weapon used in the massacre violated Connecticut’s fair trade laws.

Everytown’s complaint states that “absent FTC intervention, continued marketing of Daniel Defense is likely to lead to future tragedy.”