Families of victims killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre achieved a landmark settlement with Remington, the gun maker, 10 years after the tragedy. The $73 million settlement between Remington and the families of the five children and four adults murdered in the mass shooting is said to be the biggest of its type.
“What is lost remains lost. However, the resolution does provide a measure of accountability in an industry that has thus far operated with impunity. For this, we are grateful,” said Lenny Pozner and Veronique de la Rosa, who lost their son Noah at Sandy Hook, in a statement.
The complaint, which was first filed in 2014, has faced an uphill struggle due to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which effectively shields gun makers from wrongful-death lawsuits. Rather than suing Remington for manufacturing the Bushmaster XM-15 weapon used in the Sandy Hook massacre, the plaintiffs accused the company of encouraging illegal acts by marketing the weapon and presenting the military-style weapon to civilians in a way that reaffirmed and exploited toxic masculinity. According to the New York Times, one ad in the suit compares buying a Remington rifle to having “your man card reissued.”
Despite Remington’s several attempts to have the lawsuit dismissed, including pushing it all the way to the Supreme Court, the marketing argument convinced the Court to allow the case to proceed in 2019. Remington entered bankruptcy in 2020, and the families were allegedly given a $33 million settlement in 2021. The families turned down the offer “because they wanted to guarantee they had gathered enough papers and taken enough depositions to establish Remington’s malfeasance,” according to a news release received by CNN. The money will be paid by Remington’s four different insurers as part of this new settlement, and the families have allegedly received “thousands of pages of internal company documents that prove Remington’s wrongdoing.” They’ve also been given permission to make these records available to the general public, but it’s unclear when or if that will happen.
“This victory should serve as a wake-up call not only for the gun industry but also the insurance and banking companies that prop it up,” said Josh Koskoff, an attorney for the plaintiffs, in a statement via NPR. Koskoff added that he hoped the settlement would encourage gun manufacturers to advertise their weapons more wisely and tell banks to be more cautious about rewarding such practices. “Our hope is that this victory will be the first boulder in the avalanche that forces that change,” he said.
Activists for gun control believe that this agreement will signal a wider shift in the industry. The deal “may enhance perceived exposure of gun manufacturers to litigation filed by gun crime victims,” according to Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action. And Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, expressed his optimism that his lawsuit against Smith & Wesson will be successful. He tweeted, “I look forward to my day of accountability with them.”