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Daniel Defense, the manufacturer of an AR-15-style rifle authorities say an 18-year-old used to kill 19 children and two adults on Tuesday in Uvalde, Texas—whose founder told Forbes in 2017 its sales spiked after the Sandy Hook massacre a decade ago—has lowered its profile amid heightened attention of its particularly controversial gun.
Salvador Ramos legally purchased two AR-15-style rifles after his 18th birthday, though he only brought a Daniel Defense DDM V7 rifle—which retails for about $1,870—with him into Robb Elementary School where he killed 21 people in total, according to officials.
Shortly after the massacre, the company made its Twitter account private after facing backlash for a now-deleted tweet posted just one week before the elementary school shooting in which the company shared a photo of a young boy holding a Daniel Defense gun with the caption, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” a reference to a Bible proverb, followed by a prayer emoji.
The company’s name is no longer on a list of vendors for the NRA annual convention in Houston this weekend, though the company had said the day of the shooting it was “proud to reunite with thousands of patriots” at the event and would appear at Booth 4839.
AR-style rifles—which have become controversial in part because of how frequently they are used in mass shootings—can cause much more damage to the human body from farther distances than some other weapons such as handguns, experts told the Houston Chronicle, noting victims of such shootings are sometimes “unrecognizable.”
Daniel Defense did not respond to a request for comment from Forbes.
Daniel Defense CEO Marty Daniel told Forbes in 2017 sales surged after the Sandy Hook shooting, when a gunman opened fire in an elementary school, killing 26 people, including 20 students. Daniel said the company doesn’t “use those kinds of terrible things to drive sales,” but when “people see politicians start talking about gun control,” they become fearful and “go out and buy guns.”
$73 million. That’s how much Daniel Defense made in sales in 2016 right before its founder spoke to Forbes.
Multiple Daniel Defense AR-15s were recovered from an arsenal of weapons in the hotel rooms of Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old man, who fired more than 1,000 bullets and killed 60 people in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting.
Daniel Defense has grown into one of the country’s largest privately held manufacturers of guns and accessories since it was founded by Daniel in Savannah, Georgia in 2001, according to Forbes. The company sealed a $20 million contract with the U.S. Special Forces after being discovered by a contractor at a 2002 gun show. The gun manufacturer has also won contracts with the United Kingdom’s military, although Daniel told Forbes in 2017 90% of its sales were to consumers. Democrats have re-upped calls for stricter gun control laws in the wake of the deadly Texas shooting this week, and protests are expected in downtown Houston where the NRA plans to hold its annual conference—where former President Donald Trump is set to speak—just days after the massacre.
What To Watch For
Potential lawsuits against Daniel Defense. The families of nine victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting settled a lawsuit against Remington, the maker of the AR-15-style rifle used in the massacre, for $73 million in February. But the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act—passed in 2005 following extensive lobbying from the NRA—could shield the company, as it protects firearms manufacturers from being held liable when crimes are committed with their products.
A Gun Maker Reveals What Trump’s Presidency Means For His Business (Forbes)
AR rifle maker tied to Texas school shooting facing scrutiny, possible future lawsuits (USA Today)
Daniel Defense, the Maker of the Uvalde Shooter’s ‘Perfect Rifle,’ Abruptly Exits the NRA Convention (Daily Beast)