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Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images.
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Sandy Hook victims’ families reach historic $73 million settlement with gun manufacturer Remington

A lawsuit had been filed against the company that made the rifle used to kill 26 people at the Connecticut elementary school.

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Nearly a decade after the tragic mass shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School that took the lives of 26, including 20 children, a settlement has been reached. 

On Feb. 15, the families of five children and four adults killed in the mass shooting reached a landmark $73 million settlement with gun manufacturer Remington Arms, and its four insurers. 

The settlement comes more than seven years after the families filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Remington, which manufactured the AR-15 style rifle that was used in the massacre that left 20 first graders and six educators dead in Newtown, Connecticut. 

“This victory should serve as a wake up call, not only to the gun industry, but also the insurance and banking companies that prop it up. For the gun industry, it's time to stop recklessly marketing all guns to all people for all uses and instead ask how marketing can lower risk rather than court it. For the insurance and banking industries, it's time to recognize the financial cost of underwriting companies that elevate profit by escalating risk,” said Josh Koskoff, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. 

He added that he hopes this settlement “will be the first boulder in the avalanche that forces that change.”

The lawsuit argued that the company should have never sold such a dangerous weapon to the public, and also played a dangerous role in the way it marketed its products, violating a Connecticut law that prevents deceptive marketing practices. 

Remington, which has filed for bankruptcy twice in recent years, argued there was no evidence to establish that its marketing had anything to do with the shooting. 

This is the first time that a U.S. gun manufacturer has even been held liable or accountable for a mass shooting.

The hope is that this will set the stage for other future lawsuits against gun manufacturers to hold them more accountable, and to also prevent future mass shootings.

Nicole Hockley, a Connecticut mother who lost her 6-year-old son during the shooting and co-founder & CEO of Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, said as much.

“My hope for this lawsuit is that by facing and finally being penalized for the impact of their work, gun companies along with the insurance and banking industries that enable them will be forced to make their practices safer than they’ve ever been, which will save lives and stop more shootings,” she told the Associated Press.

The sentiment was shared by the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit. 

Francine Wheeler, whose six-year-old son, Benjamin, was also killed in the shooting, ensured that the lawsuit and subsequent settlement not be reduced to simply honoring her son. 

“Today is about how and why he died. Today is about what is right and what is wrong. Today is about the last five minutes of his life. Which were tragic, traumatic and the worst thing that can happen to a child,” she said. 

On Dec. 14, 2012, 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School — the school he attended himself as a child — and fatally shot 26 individuals. He had fatally shot his mother prior to breaking into the school, before killing himself as the authorities arrived after the massacre. 

Since then, the U.S. has seen a number of other mass shootings, including two that have resulted in even more casualties and fatalities.

Despite the fact that the Sandy Hook massacre was aimed at first grade children, no new gun legislation has been passed in the nation. 

In 2005, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was signed, a huge reason why gun manufacturers have largely been shielded from accountability for mass shootings over the years. 

In a statement following the settlement, President Joe Biden reiterated a call to repeal the act. 

“I will continue to urge state and local lawmakers, lawyers, and survivors of gun violence to pursue efforts to replicate the success of the Sandy Hook families. Together, we can deliver a clear message to gun manufacturers and dealers: they must either change their business models to be part of the solution for the gun violence epidemic, or they will bear the financial cost of their complicity,” he said.

It remains to be seen how the ramifications of this lawsuit and settlement will play out in the years to come; however, it will continue the conversation surrounding how gun rights and gun control is addressed across the nation.

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