In a landmark case, families of victims killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting reached a settlement with Remington, the gun manufacturer, a full ten years after the tragedy. The settlement, between Remington and the families of five children and four adults who were killed in the mass shooting, is reported to total $73 million, making it the largest of its kind. “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.
Originally filed in 2014, the lawsuit had been an uphill battle thanks to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which essentially grants gun manufacturers immunity from wrongful-death suits. However, instead of suing Remington for making the Bushmaster XM-15 weapon used in the Sandy Hook massacre, the plaintiffs accused the company of marketing the weapon in a way that encouraged illegal acts and presented the military-style weapon to civilians in a way that reaffirmed toxic masculinity and exploited it. One ad mentioned in the suit, per the New York Times, equates buying a Remington gun with getting “your man card reissued.”
Despite Remington’s multiple attempts to have the case dismissed, including taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court, the marketing argument proved persuasive enough to get the Court to allow the case to move forward in 2019. Remington declared bankruptcy in 2020, and in 2021, the company reportedly offered the families a $33 million settlement. According to a press release obtained by CNN, the families rejected the offer “because they wanted to ensure they had obtained enough documents and taken enough depositions to prove Remington’s misconduct.” As part of this new settlement, the money will be paid by Remington’s four separate insurers, and the families have reportedly obtained “thousands of pages of internal company documents that prove Remington’s wrongdoing.” They have also been permitted to release these documents to the public, though 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.
Gun-control activists are hopeful that this settlement could mark a larger shift in the industry. The founder of Moms Demand Action, Shannon Watts, tweeted that the settlement “could increase perceived liability of gun manufacturers to suits brought by gun crime victims.” And Fred Guttenberg, who lost his daughter in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings, shared his hope that he might prevail in his suit against Smith & Wesson. “I look forward to my day of accountability with them,” he tweeted.