On Wednesday, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) accused American gun maker Daniel Defense of being white supremacist, citing what she claims is white supremacist imagery in its marketing materials.
During a hearing of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Ocasio-Cortez questioned Daniel Defense CEO Marty Daniel on images she claimed were pulled from Daniel’s advertising.
“This photograph is from an advertisement featured for your company. I’d like to draw your attention to that red tattoo featured in your company’s advertisement,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Do you know what that tattoo is, Mr. Daniel?”
“Madam Congresswoman, I’m not sure this is our ad. Can you show the whole ad? Is this our ad or someone else’s?”
“Yes, this is your ad, Mr. Daniel, this is an advertisement for your company Daniel Defense,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“Why is the brand name not in the photo?” Daniel asked.
“No worries. No worries. So this is featured prominently in your advertisement, that tattoo, you’ve indicated you don’t know what it is,” Ocasio-Cortez replied before turning to Kelly Sampson, Senior Counsel and Director of Racial Justice of Brady United, who claimed the tattoo is a symbol that has been “increasing embraced by white supremacists.”
“So, Mr. Daniel, you may or may not know, but your company’s advertisement prominently displays iconography associated with white supremacist movements,” Ocasio-Cortez continued.
She then displayed a photo from the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol breach, which showed a protester with the symbol tattooed on his chest.
“Mr. Daniel, yes or no, are you aware that your advertising department uses imagery affiliated with white supremacist movements in its marketing materials?” Ocasio-Cortez asked.
“No, ma’am, I don’t think we do –” Daniel replied before Ocasio-Cortez interrupted him.
During the same hearing, Ocasio-Cortez’s close colleague Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) highlighted a poster that was seen at a National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) event. The poster featured the words “Not Today Antifa,” as well as men in baseball caps carrying rifles in front of a crowd of angry rioters and burning buildings.
Ryan Busse, a Giffords Law Center adviser, asserted that the poster was “encouraging and celebrating the idea that civil unrest and attacking protesters is a potential business model of profit for firearms companies.” He said the image was “distressing” and “irresponsible.”
Pressley questioned Daniel and Christopher Killoy — CEO of Ruger — about the poster.
“Mr. Daniel, as a board member of NSSF, will you use your position to stop them from allowing ads like this one, naming Boston and promoting assault weapons? Yes or no?” Pressley asked.
“Ma’am, this was not an NSSF ad,” Daniel responded.
“Will you use your position as a board member in any way to stop these sort of advertisements promoting assault weapons, yes or no, then?” Pressley asked.
“I don’t understand the question,” Daniel replied.
“That’s ok. Mr. Killoy, same question to you since you are also on the board. Will you commit to ending the practice of allowing harmful ads like this at events? Yes or no?” Pressley asked the CEO of Ruger.
“Congresswoman, respectfully, the NSSF does not advertise firearms for any of its member companies. They host a trade show annually in January and that’s where I believe that ad was seen by a company who may have been displaying it there,” Killoy replied.
Pressley reclaimed her time and started speaking about gun makers’ “immunity to sell their weapons of war using harmful marketing tactics.”
“As long as gun manufacturers have immunity to sell their weapons of war using harmful marketing tactics, black and brown communities will continue to be targeted, and that has got to change,” Pressley claimed. “In the face of white supremacy, my neighbors and I are undeterred in the pursuit of healing and the true justice, and we will not let gunmakers incite violence against us with impunity.”
Just days after the hearing, Ocasio-Cortez joined her House colleagues in passing a bill that would ban “assault weapons” as well as high-capacity magazines.