This is a letter from Robert Weissman of Public Citizen, an organization that’s trying to fix our broken nation.

There was a time — not that long ago — when America’s gun manufacturers did not advertise assault weapons to the general public.

But for the past 20 years or so, the gun industry has been aggressively marketing military-grade munitions to the American people — with ads specifically invoking race-based fear, twisted notions of masculinity, and distorted ideas about “patriotism.”

This has fed some very bad and deadly trends:

  • The United States is the only country on the entire planet with more guns (at least 400 million and counting) than people (335 million). No other country has even half as many guns per capita as we do.
  • The number of guns manufactured in America has nearly tripled over the past two decades, from 3.9 million in 2000 to 11.3 million in 2020. (And it’s not as if guns wear out like light bulbs, refrigerators, or cars.)
  • We endure more mass shootings than all other developed countries combined. It’s not even close.
  • The frequency — and body count — of mass shootings has increased as well.
  • 13 of the 20 deadliest mass shootings since 1982 happened in just the past decade.
  • There were 118 school shootings in 2018, doubling the previous record of 59. Then 119 in 2019. Then 114 in 2020. Then 249 (not a typo) in 2021. And already 137 so far in 2022 (with more than half the year still to go).
  • The 3 deadliest years for school shootings in the past half-century are 2018, 2021, and 2022 (which, again, isn’t quite halfway over yet).
  • Guns have become the leading cause of death among children in our country. Not disease. Not malnutrition. Not accidents. (Auto accidents had been the leading cause of death among children for decades until overtaken by guns in 2020.)

And all the while, gun industry profits have exploded.

Look, America’s gun manufacturers may well be beyond listening to reason. There are, after all, more people to scare — and more profits to be made — no matter the carnage.

But let’s make them hear us — our pain, our fury, our disgust — anyway.

Tell America’s gun manufacturers:

You have made America exceptional in the most perverted way possible. Tens of thousands of Americans — fourth graders, teachers, grandmothers, people shopping for groceries, people praying, people dancing, people who love and are loved, people — are taken from us year after year after year. And you are part of the problem. Stop marketing assault weapons to the general public. Stop glorifying them. Stop advertising them as a sign of masculinity. Better yet, stop even manufacturing them in the first place. Haven’t you made enough money? Haven’t enough of your fellow Americans paid with their very lives?

Add your name now.

Thank you for taking action.

For progress,

– Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen