CCKRBA Gun Owners Virginia

Sandy Hook $73M Settlement Made By Insurance Companies Could Open Door To “The Advertising Made Him Do It” Lawsuits Against Gun Manufacturers

Earlier this week the gun manufacturer Remington reached a settlement with the families of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.

The gunmaker, which produces the AR-15 Bushmaster rifle, agreed to pay $73 million to the families of the 20 children and six faculty at the elementary school targeted by Adam Lanza in December 2012.

But the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association representing the firearms industry, pointed out a couple of problems with the predominant narrative.

In a statement, the NSSF noted, “The decision to settle in the Soto v. Bushmaster case was not made by a member of the firearms industry. The settlement was reached between the plaintiffs and the various insurance carriers that held policies with Remington Outdoor Company (ROC), which effectively no longer exists.”

The ROC, the statement said, went bankrupt and its assets were sold in September 2020. A judge allowed the lawsuit against the “estate” of ROC to continue.

As Cam Edwards, columnist for the pro-Second Amendment website, noted, “Vista Outdoors, which is the current owner of the Remington brand, wasn’t a party to the lawsuit or involved in the decision to settle. In fact, it sounds like the decision to settle was made solely by the insurers of the former Remington Outdoor Company, since the company itself is no longer around.”

More importantly, the NSSF noted, “The settlement also does not alter the fundamental facts of the case.”

“The plaintiffs never produced any evidence that Bushmaster advertising had any bearing or influence over Nancy Lanza’s decision to legally purchase a Bushmaster rifle, nor on the decision of murderer Adam Lanza to steal that rifle, kill his mother in her sleep, and go on to commit the rest of his horrendous crimes.”

“We renew our sincere sympathy for the victims of this unspeakable tragedy and all victims of violence committed through the misusing of any firearm,” the NSSF added. “But the fact remains that modern sporting rifles are the most popular rifle in America with over 20 million sold to law-abiding Americans and rifles, of any kind, are exceedingly rarely used in crime.”

The NSSF said it “believes the Court incorrectly allowed this one claim to go forward to discovery. We remain confident ROC would have prevailed if this case proceeded to trial.”

Edwards seemed to agree.

He wrote that he agrees with the NSSF that “it would have been extraordinarily difficult for the plaintiff’s attorneys to prove at trial that the killer in the Sandy Hook murders chose to use a Bushmaster rifle because of the way the gun was advertised.”

One reason was that Adam Lanza didn’t buy the gun he used in the massacre. “Remember, the murderer first killed his own mother and then stole her rifle to use in his murderous rampage in the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut,” Edwards wrote.

“I don’t believe the attorneys for the plaintiffs would have been able to show that Remington’s advertising either inspired the killer or pushed him towards using an AR-15 to slaughter school children,” Edwards added.

“But for the insurance companies involved, it was probably better to settle the suit than run the risk of an even bigger verdict if a sympathetic jury ruled in favor of the families.”

Edwards concluded by calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and clarify that a federal law that protects gunmakers from legal action when people misuse their products, as is applicable in such cases as Sandy Hook.

Without that, he noted, “I worry that we’re going to see a lot of new lawsuits against gun makers based precisely on that argument,” which boils down to, suffice to say, “the advertising made him do it.”  

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