Remington, the maker of the rifle used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, has reached a historic $73 million settlement with relatives of victims of the 2012 massacre, which left 20 children and 6 adults dead. The settlement marks the first time a gun manufacturer has been held accountable for a mass shooting in the United States.
The families’ lawsuit alleged that the gun manufacturer irresponsibly marketed the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle to at-risk young men like the school shooter through video games. The $73 million settlement comes less than a year after attorneys for Remington offered the families nearly $33 million to settle. Josh Koskoff, who represents the families, commented then that the company’s insurers “deserve credit for now realizing that promoting the use of AR-15s as weapons of war to civilians is indefensible.”
Koskoff seemed pleased with the settlement on Tuesday. “These nine families have shared a single goal from the very beginning: to do whatever they could to help prevent the next Sandy Hook,” he said in a statement, according to The New York Times. “It is hard to imagine an outcome that better accomplishes that goal.”
The families of five of the children and four of the adults killed in the shooting filed the lawsuit against Remington in 2014. The case reached the Connecticut state Supreme Court in 2019 after Remington argued that it couldn’t be held liable for crimes in which its guns were used, citing the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). “The perception for the gun industry is: ‘We can’t get sued,’” Koskoff told Rolling Stone in 2016. “‘We can be as unethical and as wild and aggressive in the marketing as we want.’”
But in a 4-3 ruling, the court sided with the families, noting that the PLCAA does not exempt “wholly irresponsible conduct such as the wrongful advertising of potentially dangerous products for criminal or illegal purposes.” Remington had marketed the weapons in question as totems of manliness and, as the lawsuit claimed, the company “knowingly marketed, advertised, and promoted the XM15-E2S for civilians to use to carry out offensive, military style combat missions against their perceived enemies.”
8. As for @RemingtonArms, its marketing materials for Bushmaster XM15-e2s — the gun used at Sandy Hook — specifically targeted young men & appealed to them with hypermasculine & violent messaging. An ad for the gun included the tagline, “Consider your man card reissued.” pic.twitter.com/ob85axxd4m
— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) August 1, 2019
Remington filed for bankruptcy in 2018 after years of lackluster sales and legal and public pressure resulting from the massacre. Four of the company’s insurers took over the company’s defense. The bankrupted gun manufacturer last September tried to obtain the school records of each of the victims, drawing immediate criticism from Koskoff. “The records cannot possibly excuse Remington’s egregious marketing conduct, or be of any assistance in estimating the catastrophic damages in this case,” he said, according to The Connecticut Post. “The only relevant part of their attendance records is that they were at their desks on December 14, 2012.”
Twenty-six people were killed in the Dec. 14, 2012 massacre. Twenty of them were children between the ages of six and seven.