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Sandy Hook families settle with Remington after 2012 massacre

The families of nine victims of an elementary school massacre nearly a decade ago in the northeastern U.S. state of Connecticut reached a $73 million settlement on Tuesday as part of a of a lawsuit against Remington Arms, the maker of the gun used in the massacre.

The settlement is a rare case of an American gunsmith paying damages for bloodshed resulting from the criminal use of a firearm.

Twenty first graders and six educators were killed December 12, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut by Adam Lanza, who repeatedly fired a Remington semi-automatic rifle as he walked through the school .

The families and a survivor of the massacre sued Remington in 2015, claiming the company should never have sold such a dangerous military-style weapon to the public. They also said they were focused on preventing further mass shootings.

“Today is not about honoring our son Benjamin. Today is about how and why Ben died,” said Francine Wheeler, whose 6-year-old son was killed in the slaughter. “Our justice system has given us justice today, but David and I will never have real justice. Real justice would be our fifteen years healthy and here with us.

The civil lawsuit in Waterbury Superior Court focused on how the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle was marketed, claiming Remington singled out younger, risky men in in-game marketing and product placements violent video.

Remington did not immediately comment on the settlement, but the gunmaker had argued there was no evidence its marketing of the rifle was linked to the murders.

The gunmaker also said the lawsuit should have been dismissed because of a federal law that grants broad immunity to the firearms industry. The Connecticut Supreme Court, however, ruled that Remington could be sued under state law over how he marketed the rifle.

Remington appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case.

The gunsmith offered to pay plaintiffs nearly $33 million in July. In 2018, Remington filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and emerged later that year under the scrutiny of its creditors. The company filed for bankruptcy again in July 2020 after more retailers restricted gun sales after more school shootings across the United States.

Plaintiffs said Remington’s four insurers agreed to pay the full amount of available coverage, totaling $73 million.

“This victory should serve as a wake-up call not only to the gun industry, but also to the insurance and banking companies that support it,” said Josh Koskoff, plaintiffs’ attorney. “For the firearms industry, it’s time to stop recklessly marketing all guns to all people for all uses and instead ask how marketing can reduce risk rather than woo it.”

The gun used by Lanza, who was 20 at the time of the shooting, legally belonged to his mother. He used the gun to kill his mother in their Newtown home before committing the mass shooting at the school. Lanza committed suicide with a handgun when police arrived.

Some information for this report comes from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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