Sandy Hook Families Agree to $73 Million Settlement With Gunmaker Remmington


Ally Haddad, Features Editor

   Families of nine Sandy Hook school shooting victims announced a $73 million settlement on Tuesday with the manufacturer of the rifle used in the massacre. This is the first time a gun manufacturer has been held liable for a mass shooting in the United States.

Photograph of the Sandy Hook victims.

   The settlement was reached after seven years of litigation with Remington Arms, the manufacturer of the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which killed 20 first graders and six teachers on December 14, 2012. It’s a “landmark, historic victory,” says Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was one of the first graders killed. Hockley is currently the CEO and co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, a group that works to prevent gun violence. “The gun industry has been shielded from being held accountable for their part in these tragedies,” she said at a news conference on Tuesday. “Today, that changes.”

   In addition to the settlement, Remington agreed to allow the families to release documents they obtained during the litigation, including documents that show how the company marketed the weapon, said Joshua Koskoff, the lead attorney representing the families. Hockley said the families are eager to release the internal documents, which “paint a picture of a company that lost its way choosing more aggressive marketing campaigns for profit, with no thought to the impact.” Representing the families, Koskoff says the settlement was never about the money, but rather about getting answers and justice for the situation. He continued, “the linchpin of this settlement is that it allows these families the right to share the information as to what they learned.”

   Remington previously offered the victims’ families $33 million in a possible settlement last year but Koskoff thought the offer was “grossly inadequate” according to USA TODAY. This lawsuit sought to test the scope of a federal law that provides gun manufacturers with immunity from lawsuits stemming from crimes committed using their products. Connecticut’s civil suit centered on Remington’s marketing of the rifle, which was accused of targeting young, at-risk men with product placement in violent video games and ads, including one that used the phrase “Consider Your Man Card Reissued.”

   According to the lawsuit, Remington violated Connecticut’s unfair trade practices law when it “knowingly marketed and promoted the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle for use in assaults against human beings.” In court, Remington’s lawyers denied the allegations and maintained there was no evidence linking Remington’s marketing to the shooting. With this settlement, beliefs about gun manufacturers’ ability to resist lawsuits related to the criminal use of guns they make may be broken, and discussions about gun violence will hopefully shift to a focus on the marketing of guns.