The maker of the rifle used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting has offered some of the victims’ families nearly $33 million to settle their lawsuit over how the company marketed the firearm to the public.
Lawyers for now-bankrupt Remington filed the offers late Tuesday in Waterbury Superior Court in Connecticut. The nine families suing the company, who are being offered nearly $3.7 million apiece, are considering the proposals, their lawyers said.
A Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle made by Remington was used to kill 20 first graders and six educators at the Newtown, Connecticut, school on Dec. 14, 2012. The 20-year-old gunman, Adam Lanza, killed his mother at their Newtown home before the massacre, then killed himself with a handgun as police arrived at the school.
Relatives of nine victims killed in the shooting say in their lawsuit that Remington should have never sold such a dangerous weapon to the public and allege it targeted younger, at-risk males in marketing and product placement in violent video games. They say their focus is on preventing future mass shootings.
Adam Peter Lanza was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, on April 22, 1992. Lanza’s mother, Nancy, was a former stockbroker and longtime gun enthusiast. Friends and neighbors said she took her son to the gun range to avoid leaving him alone, but she was responsible with weapons. Unlike her son, who was quiet and socially awkward, Nancy was outgoing and easily made friends.
Lanza was described by classmates as "fidgety" and "deeply troubled." According to some of his friends and family members, he had also been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.
Lanza used a Bushmaster Model XM15-E2S rifle, a type of AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, in the Sandy Hook shooting. An Izhmash Saiga-12, 12 gauge semi-automatic shotgun was found in his car. There were also three weapons found next to his body, including a semiautomatic .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle and two handguns.
The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act or Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) was a subsection of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, a United States federal law which included a prohibition on the manufacture for civilian use of certain semi-automatic firearms that were defined as assault weapons as well as certain ammunition magazines that were defined as "large capacity."
The 10-year ban was passed by the US Congress on September 13, 1994, following a close 52–48 vote in the US Senate, and was signed into law by US President Bill Clinton on the same day. The ban applied only to weapons manufactured after the date of the ban's enactment. It expired on September 13, 2004, in accordance with its sunset provision. Several constitutional challenges were filed against provisions of the ban, but all were rejected by the courts. There were multiple attempts to renew the ban, but none succeeded.
Studies have shown the ban had little effect in overall criminal activity, firearm homicides, and the lethality of gun crimes. There is tentative evidence that the frequency of mass shootings may have slightly decreased while the ban was in effect.
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA, is a federal law enacted in 2005 that grants broad immunity from liability to gun manufacturers and dealers in federal and state courts. PLCAA prevents plaintiffs from filing lawsuits against gun manufacturers or dealers in many cases when these parties have been negligent and there has been “criminal or unlawful misuse” of a firearm or ammunition—regardless of whether plaintiffs are seeking monetary damages or injunctive relief.
The law includes some narrow exceptions for permissible civil lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dealers, including for knowingly transferring a gun to a person with the knowledge that they intended to use it in a crime of violence; violating state or federal laws governing the conduct of the gun industry; negligent entrustment; breach of a contract; or limited cases involving harm to individuals caused by design defects.
PLCAA was introduced at the behest of the gun industry, and National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre touted its passage as “a historic piece of legislation” in 2005.