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Daniel Defense, the company that made the rifle a gunman used to kill 21 people inside a Texas elementary school this week, was one of hundreds of gunmakers and dealers to get emergency small business aid from the federal government. through the Paycheck Protection Program.

The Ellabell, Georgia-based company received a $3.1 million loan in early April 2020, just days after the relief fund opened, as many businesses struggled to make their way through the avalanche. of applications when the pandemic began.

The loan, made by Cadence Bank, was used to support about 200 employees, according to government records. Daniel Defense met the requirements of the program for his loan forgiveness, and the government repaid it in June 2021.

A Daniel Defense rifle was used in the attack on Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, according to a state police report received by state Sen. John Whitmire of Houston. Nineteen children and two adults were killed at the school and several other children were injured. The 18-year-old gunman also injured his grandmother before attacking the school.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic events in Texas this week,” the company wrote in a statement posted on its website. “We will cooperate with all federal, state and local law enforcement authorities in their investigations.”

Company representatives did not immediately respond to questions about the Paycheck Protection Program loan. The Small Business Administration, which oversaw the program, declined to comment, citing the agency’s policy “spanning multiple previous administrations” not to comment on individual borrowers.

When asked about the loan at the White House news conference on Thursday, Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said it was the first time she had heard about the loan and that she would look into it.

Virtually all small businesses in America, generally defined by the government as those with fewer than 500 workers, qualified for help through the Paycheck Protection Program, which required applicants to simply certify that “economic uncertainty” caused by the pandemic made it necessary for them to seek help from the government fund.

Daniel Defense is a private company, so it doesn’t publicly report its sales, but government data shows it made far more weapons in 2020, after the pandemic, compared to the year before. The company made more than 51,000 firearms in 2020 and fewer than 32,000 in 2019, according to data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Nearly 500 gun and ammunition manufacturers and retailers received federal support through the $800 billion relief program. The industry collectively took out loans totaling $125 million, according to a New York Times analysis of government data.

Twenty-three manufacturers, including Daniel Defense, received loans of $1 million or more. The largest, for $10 million, the maximum loan available through the relief fund, went to RemArms, a Georgia company that acquired assets and a manufacturing plant from Remington after it filed for bankruptcy.

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