Daniel Defense: Maker of AR15-style rifle used in Texas shooting has history of controversial weapons ads

“We understand that the firearm used in the attack was manufactured by Daniel Defense,” the website says. “We will cooperate with all federal, state and local law enforcement authorities in their investigations.”

Days before the shooting, the Georgia-based company tweeted a provocative image of a toddler holding an assault type weapon with the caption: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he’s old he won’t stray from it.”

The company, founded by Marty Daniel, is now under the scrutiny of politicians and activists seeking to change gun laws so that civilians do not have easy access to military-grade weapons.

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform is asking Daniel Defense to provide information such as how much they spend on advertising, gross revenue from assault rifle sales, and more evidence ahead of their June 8 hearing that “will examine the root cause of gun violence and assess measures to prevent further loss of life from firearms.”
Daniel Defense has since deleted the toddler’s tweet – which used the language of Proverbs 22:6 in the Bible – but since its founding in 2000, the company has repeatedly made headlines for the way it advertises its arms to consumers.
Salvador Ramos, the man who carried out the shooting in Uvalde, was one of those consumers. Investigators found one of the suspect’s AR15-style rifles, made by Daniel Defense, in the school, according to Texas State Senator John Whitmire, who received a briefing from law enforcement.

CNN contacted Daniel Defense for comment but did not hear back.

Daniel Defense is proud to manufacture its own parts

Marty Daniel founded his company once he was “bitten by the shooting bug”, according to a timeline of company history.

After earning an electrical engineering degree from Georgia Southern University, Daniel opened an overhead door and chimney business. His firearms business started because a friend invited him to shoot his AR, the site says.

“Every shot he fired filled him with a satisfaction he had never felt before,” the website says.

In the more than 20 years since its founding, Daniel Defense has billed itself as a company that prides itself on manufacturing “virtually every component it sells,” its website says.

On its “Company Values” page, the company said that manufacturing its own parts “sets us apart from many industry players who assemble rather than build their products.”

“We love building great guns,” Marty Daniel said in a 2019 ad.

NFL reportedly won’t allow Daniel Defense ad during Super Bowl

The NFL refused to allow a Daniel Defense commercial during Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014 because it promoted firearms. The ad focused on a man returning home with his wife and baby.

“I’m responsible for protecting them, and no one has the right to tell me how to defend them,” the publicity man says in a voiceover. “So I chose the most effective tool for the job,” ends the ad with the Daniel Défense logo.

Trump and other Republicans reject gun reforms at NRA convention that highlights nation's division

Although it never aired during the Super Bowl, Marty Daniel turned the rejection into an avalanche of attention.

“The majority of Super Bowl fans have the same values ​​that we have at Daniel Defense and that’s that we believe in protecting our families,” Daniel told Fox News at the time.

Gun control activists say the company is targeting younger customers with nods to pop culture icons and video games. At the same time, Daniel seems to aim and focus his comments on older Americans and gun control.

“The anti-Second Amendment mob is just looking for any excuse to ban guns any way they can,” Daniel told OutdoorHub in 2016.

But the company shunned the limelight in the wake of Uvalde’s shooting.

Daniel Defense did not attend the National Rifle Association convention last week. It was the first annual meeting of the gun lobby in three years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Daniel Defense will not be attending the NRA meeting due to the horrific tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, where one of our products was used for criminal purposes,” said Steve Reed, Vice President of the company’s marketing department, in a statement. “We believe this week is not the appropriate time to promote our products in Texas at the NRA meeting.”

The company display was replaced with a popcorn cart and a baked potato stand.

CNN’s David Goldman contributed to this report.


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