Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft skip CEO gun control letter

The Silicon Valley heavyweights decline to join other tech companies in a letter asking the Senate to enact stronger laws.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
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Some of tech's biggest names, including Airbnb, Pinterest, Twitter and Uber, have signed onto a letter sent to the US Senate from 145 well-known companies demanding action on gun control. But Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft weren't among them.

The letter, dated Thursday, urged Senate leaders to expand background checks on firearm sales and enact stronger "red flag" laws, which are designed to remove weapons from people deemed a danger to themselves or others.

"Doing nothing about America's gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety," the company heads wrote in the letter, which was published on the website CEOs for Gun Safety and originally reported by The New York Times. 

Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft didn't respond to requests for comment.

The letter comes after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in a single weekend last month left 32 people dead and more than four dozen people injured. In the aftermath, public debate about gun control has intensified. Democratic presidential candidates have pressed for action, and the US House of Representatives has passed bills to address some of the issues raised by Thursday's letter, including background checks and red flag laws.

Whether Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google or Microsoft will more substantively join the debate is unclear. The companies at times have joined onto group letters, and each has been wrapped up in hot button political debates regarding immigration, taxes and other issues. Apple CEO Tim Cook, for example, has called US inaction on gun control "insanity." Facebook meanwhile has set rules restricting ads for weapons and weapons accessories

Apple and Google in particular have also grappled with gun violence at their respective offices. An Apple employee died by suicide on the company's campus in 2016. And last year, a disgruntled YouTube video creator shot three people at the Google-owned video site's offices before taking her own life.

(If you're in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741)

CNET's Dara Kerr contributed to this report.