The Hong Kong Telegraph - Sandy Hook families settle with gunmaker over school massacre

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Sandy Hook families settle with gunmaker over school massacre
Sandy Hook families settle with gunmaker over school massacre

Sandy Hook families settle with gunmaker over school massacre

Families of nine victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting have reached a $73 million settlement with US gunmaker Remington, in a landmark deal for a country plagued by campus massacres.

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Twenty-six children and teachers were shot dead at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut by 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza.

A "settlement agreement has been executed between the parties," a notice from lawyers for the families said Tuesday.

Lanza was a 20-year-old with known developmental disabilities who lived at home with his mother when he carried out the attack.

His mother, a gun enthusiast, had bought him a AR-15-style Bushmaster XM15-E2S semi-automatic rifle more than two years before the shooting. Lanza murdered his mother before attacking the school, and killed himself afterward.

The lawsuit had alleged that Remington and the other two defendants are culpable because they knowingly marketed a military grade weapon that is "grossly unsuited" for civilian use yet had become the gun most used in mass shootings.

Remington, the oldest gunmaker in the United States and which has since filed for bankruptcy, had denied the allegations.

The plaintiffs alleged that the gun was marketed immorally and unscrupulously, sold on its war-fighting capabilities to civilians.

Marketing, they alleged, popularized the AR-15 in combat and mass shooting-type situations through the type of violent video games that Lanza was known to play.

They specifically cited Remington's marketing of high-capacity magazines, which have only combat utility, for use with the gun.

"When it came to the military looking for the best weapon, the most lethal weapon, the most destructive weapon and the weapon that could provide our soldiers... they chose the AR-15," Joshua Koskoff, a lawyer for the Sandy Hook families, told a press conference Tuesday.

The same gun, he said, "was used not by a highly-trained soldier but by a deeply troubled kid, not on a battlefield abroad but in an elementary school at home, and not to preserve freedom, but to eviscerate them."

AFP has sought comment from both Remington and the plaintiff's lawyers.

- Popular in mass shootings -

An AR-15 was also used to kill 58 people at a mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017, and 17 as a school in Parkland, Florida in 2018.

When the lawsuit by the Sandy Hook families was first filed, a lower court in Connecticut has rejected it.

But the state Supreme Court overruled that judgement.

It said that, even though the US Congress passed a law in 2005 that explicitly immunized gunmakers when their products are used in crimes, Remington could still be sued on the grounds that its marketing violated Connecticut's unfair trade practice laws.

Nicole Hockley, the mother of victim Dylan, six, told a press conference that her family had moved from Britain "because of our belief in the American dream."

But that "turned into the American nightmare, where for too many the right to bear arms is a higher priority than the right to life."

"Nothing will bring Dylan back," she said. “The closest I get to him now is by kissing his urn every night, telling him I love him and I miss him."

Last year a US judge ruled in favor of parents who sued conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for saying that the massacre at the school was a hoax.

In the shooting, 20 six- and seven-year-old children and six staff members were killed.