Markey’s legislation would direct Federal Trade Commission to create rule prohibiting gun marketing to kids and teens
Guns are leading cause of death for kids and teens in United States
Washington (February 2, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today led his colleagues in introducing the Protecting Kids from Gun Marketing Act, legislation that directs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to prescribe rules that prohibit the marketing of firearms to children. The legislation comes as Americans suffered 52 mass shootings and 3,700 gun-related deaths across the United States in the first month of this year alone. There are restrictions on cigarette and tobacco advertising, on alcohol advertising, and on cannabis advertising, yet the firearms industry is not subject to any specific restrictions or limitations on their marketing practices. For decades, gunmakers have marketed their automatic rifle-style guns, the weapon of choice in mass shootings, and other weapons, to children. These weapons include Chicago-based WEE1 Tactical’s ‘JR-15’ assault-style weapon, marketed and sold as a child’s version of the AR-15 assault rifle. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) are cosponsors.

“A junior version of the AR-15 has no place in a kid’s toy box. America’s gun violence epidemic is claiming tens of thousands of lives each year as gunmakers, dealers, and vendors alike continue to put sales over safety by targeting kids with advertising of a deadly weapon,” said Senator Markey. “It’s shameful, irresponsible, and dangerous. The FTC must act immediately to prohibit the marketing of these weapons to children, a step that could save lives.”

Last week, Senators Markey, Durbin, Blumenthal, Padilla, Murphy, Duckworth and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) held a press conference urging the FTC to investigate WEE1 Tactical’s JR-15 marketing and advertising tactics. In May 2022, Senator Markey led 10 of his colleagues in writing to the FTC urging it to investigate WEE1 Tactical for these unfair and deceptive trade practices.

Specifically, the Protecting Kids from Gun Marketing Act would:
  1. Direct the FTC to promulgate a rule prohibiting the marketing of firearms to minors;
  2. Require the FTC to report to Congress on enforcement of the rule;
  3. Authorize state attorneys general to bring actions for violations of the rule; and
  4. Establish a private right of action for individuals to bring actions for violation of the rule.
The Protecting Kids from Gun Marketing Act is endorsed by March For Our Lives, Violence Policy Center, Giffords, Brady, and Everytown. 

“There’s no world in which deadly firearms manufacturers should advertise guns to children,” said Zeenat Yahya, Policy Director, March For Our Lives. “Unsecured access to guns has killed far too many children and young people over the years. The very idea that gun manufacturers want to take advantage of young people by targeting young people who aren’t even old enough to drive with ads that sell deadly weapons is sickening. While gun manufacturers profits soar, guns have become the leading cause of death for young people for the second year in a row. That isn’t a coincidence. It’s time for Congress to take a stand and defend young peoples’ lives against an immoral industry practice, and we’re pleased to stand with Senator Markey and our congressional partners in the introduction of this bill.”
"The gun industry's deceptive and reckless marketing practices have real consequences: our nation’s gun violence epidemic is worsening while the gun industry's profits soar. Promoting weapons to young people is especially heinous considering that guns are now the number one cause of death for children. We applaud Senator Markey for introducing the Protecting Kids from Gun Marketing Act to crack down on gunmakers' irresponsible advertising targeting youth and urge the Senate and Congress to pass it swiftly," said Adzi Vokhiwa, Federal Affairs Director, Giffords.

"Few Americans are aware that there is an ongoing, coordinated effort by the gun lobby and firearms industry targeting America’s children and teens. Imagine the public outcry if the alcohol or tobacco industries introduced child-friendly versions of their adult products. Senator Markey's legislation is an important step forward to expose and halt the gun industry's outrageous conduct," said Josh Sugarmann, Executive Director, Violence Policy Center.