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Sandy Hook families settle for $73M from Remington gun maker

Families of nine victims in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting tragedy announced Tuesday that they had reached a $73million settlement with the manufacturer of the rifle used in the deaths of 20 first-graders and six educators.

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Sandy Hook families settle for $73M from Remington gun maker

Gun control advocates, gun rights supporters, and gun manufacturers closely watched the case because it could provide a guideline for victims of other shootings who wish to sue firearm manufacturers.

Remington was sued by the victims' families and Remington in 2015. They claimed that the company should not have sold such a deadly weapon to the public. They stated that their goal was to prevent future mass shootings and force gun companies to be more responsible about how they market their guns.

Some parents involved in the lawsuit spoke at a news conference and described the victory as bittersweet.

Nicole Hockley, the mother of Dylan Hockley (6 years old), said that nothing will bring Dylan back. She said that her hope was that gun companies and the insurance and banking industry that support them would be made to face the consequences of their actions. This will make their practices safer and prevent more shootings.
President Joe Biden called this settlement "historic" and stated that while it doesn't erase the tragedy of that day, the settlement begins the work of holding gun makers accountable for making weapons of war, and marketing these guns irresponsibly.

Gun rights groups claim that the settlement will not have any effect on rifle sales or gun makers. They are still protected from liability under federal law in most cases. Some experts believe it could prompt gun manufacturers to make changes.

Timothy D. Lyton, a Georgia State University law professor, said that gun manufacturers might be subject to increased pressure from insurance companies to avoid making the same design or marketing mistakes that led to this litigation.

This is not the first settlement between victims and gun manufacturers. Eight families of victims of the Washington, D.C.-area shooting snipers were awarded a $2.5million settlement in 2004. Bushmaster Firearms Inc. received $550,000 and the remainder from the gun dealer. Lytton stated that the Sandy Hook settlement may have a greater impact because it is so high.

Connecticut's civil court case focused on the marketing of the weapon used in the Newtown shooting -- a Bushmaster XM15E2S rifle. It was claimed that it targeted young, at-risk men in advertisements and product placement in violent games. Remington's ad features the rifle against a plain background and the phrase "Consider your Man Card Reissued."

Remington agreed to let the families release many documents it obtained during the lawsuit, including those showing how the weapon was marketed, as part of the settlement. These documents are not yet available.

Remington argued that there was no evidence to show that Remington's marketing had any connection to the shooting.

According to Remington, the suit should have been dropped due to federal law which gives broad immunity for the gun industry. Remington could be sued by the Connecticut Supreme Court over the marketing of the rifle. This was an exception to federal law. The gun manufacturer appealed to U.S. Supreme Court which declined to hear the case.

Lytton stated that the U.S. Supreme Court is yet to rule on whether similar lawsuits against gun manufacturers can be filed because it has not yet decided whether the Sandy Hook families were able to use the 2005 immunity law.

Biden demanded that Congress repeal the immunity law in Tuesday's statement. Biden said that he will "continue to urge states and local legislators, lawyers, survivors of gun violence, to pursue efforts to replicate Sandy Hook's success."

Remington, one the nation's oldest gun manufacturers, was founded in 1816. In 2020, Remington filed for bankruptcy again. Its assets were later sold to several companies. Following the school shooting, Remington was hit with lawsuits and restrictions on retail sales.

Adam Lanza (20 years old) was the gunman in the Sandy Hook shooting. He used a Remington rifle that his mother legally owned to kill the educators and children on Dec. 14, 2012. As police arrived, he used a handgun for his own murder.

According to Connecticut's child advocate, Lanza's grave and deteriorating mental state, his obsession with violence and his access to his mother’s weapons "proved to be a recipe for mass killing."

Remington and its lawyers were left Tuesday with messages seeking comment.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is a Newtown-based group representing gunmakers. It believes that the courts should have stopped the case from proceeding and that the plaintiffs would have won at trial. The settlement should not have any effect on The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (a 2005 federal law that protected gun manufacturers from liability).

The plaintiffs did not provide any evidence that Bushmaster advertising influenced Nancy Lanza's decision about legally purchasing a Bushmaster rifle. They also didn't support Adam Lanza's decision for murder to steal the rifle and kill his mother while he sleeps, before committing the rest of his horrible crimes," the group stated in a statement.

The settlement will only pay the damages to the families that signed up for the lawsuit and not to other victims' families. Andrew Friedman, their spokesperson, stated that the families are still deciding what to do with the money.

The plaintiffs claimed that four insurers of the bankrupt company had agreed to cover the entire amount of coverage, which was $73 million.

Francine Wheeler, the mother of Ben, 6-year-old boy, died in the shooting. "Our legal system has provided some justice today. True justice will not be available to David and me. True justice would be our 15 year old healthy and right here with us. Benny won't be 15. Because he is gone forever, he will always be 6

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