The families of the nine Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims have reached a $73 Million settlement with Remington. They now plan to shift their focus to end firearms advertising that exploits young men’s insecurities and to stop the sale of guns.
Remington, according to the families, used these ads to advertise its AR-15-style rifles, such as the one that was used to murder 20 children and six educators at a Newtown, Connecticut school on Dec. 14, 2012.
Remington’s marketing strategy will be revealed when Remington’s lawyers release thousands of documents from the company that they obtained during the lawsuit. Lawyers for Remington, its insurers, and the families agreed to this disclosure in the settlement that was announced Tuesday.
In an interview, Nicole Hockley, the mother of Dylan, 6-year-old, stated that this was a case about “creating change”. “Right now I am waiting to have access and to learn how to use it to drive safety and better practices in sales and marketing.”
Hockley is a plaintiff in this lawsuit and has been working with relatives of victims to stop gun violence through the Sandy Hook Promise.
Gun industry watchers believe the records may provide a detailed look at the push by firearms makers to popularize AR-15s or similar rifles. This is especially after a federal ban of such weapons for 10 years expired in 2004.
Hockley and other observers have drawn parallels between the Hockley case and those that saw tobacco companies disclose harmful internal documents and then later settle for billions of dollars over sickened smokers.
The families’ lawyers are yet to release the documents. Joshua Koskoff (a lawyer representing the families) said that the records were being prepared for public consumption. This process is expected to take several weeks.
Koskoff stated that the documents included emails between employees, presentations from company internals and business projections. The contents of the records were not disclosed by Koskoff.
Timothy D. Lytton from Georgia State University, said that “the information that may emerge… there might be features of how the gun industry conducts business that aren’t either widely known nor widely appreciated.” “This will shine a spotlight upon the industry’s involvement in the problem of gun violence.”
Remington’s lawyers and its insurers didn’t return messages seeking comment. Remington, a company that was founded in 1816, was based in Madison (North Carolina). In 2020, Remington went bankrupt again. Its assets were later sold at an auction to other companies. Remington Firearms was created and Remington Ammunition was established.
Remington Firearms received a message seeking comment. In November, Remington Firearms announced that it would establish its headquarters in LaGrange in Georgia. Vista Outdoor, the Remington Ammunition owner, was based in Anoka. A spokesperson said that the settlement only involved Remington Outdoor Company, and not Vista Outdoor or Remington Ammunition.
Koskoff displayed Remington ads at the news conference to announce the settlement. He said that Remington ads appealed primarily to troubled young people like Adam Lanza (20-year-old gunman who killed Sandy Hook shooter). Lanza used a Remington-made Bushmaster XM15E2S rifle, which was legally his mother’s. Before he went to school, he killed his mother at their Newtown house.
These ads featured messages such as “Consider your Man Card Reissued” or “Clear The Room, Cover the Rooftop and Rescue the Hostage.”
Koskoff claimed Remington targeted young, at-risk men in its advertising and product placements in violent video games. Although the lawsuit claimed that Remington’s advertising was a factor in the school shooting, it did not provide any details.
Lanza suffered from severe mental illness and was in constant decline. This, along with his obsession with violence and his access to his mother’s weapons, “proved a recipe of mass murder,” according to a Connecticut child advocate.
The report stated that Lanza’s mother kept him home from the 10th grade. There, he was surrounded with a large arsenal of guns and spent hours playing violent video games. Although his medical and school records contained references to autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder diagnoses, psychiatrists believe that these conditions do not indicate future violence.
Robert Spitzer is a State University of New York Cortland political science professor and author of five books about gun policy. He said that the case will force gun manufacturers to reevaluate their marketing strategies. Spitzer is a member of the Brady gun control advocacy group and the National Rifle Association. He stated that his main goal is to learn all sides of the gun debate.
Spitzer stated that the Remington case is a warning to other gun companies making assault-type weapons not to emphasize the military history or the Rambo-like characteristics of the weapon. They would be crazy to continue marketing these weapons by emphasizing these values, as they would open themselves to similar lawsuits.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is a gun industry group based in Newtown. It said that the Sandy Hook families did not provide evidence that Remington’s advertising had any impact on Lanza. According to the foundation, there have been more 20 million AR-15-style rifles in America and that only a few of them are used for criminal purposes.
The latest FBI crime statistics show that of the 13,600 firearms used for homicides in 2020 there were approximately 450 rifles and more than 8,000 handguns.
AR-15-style rifles have been used in many mass shootings including Sandy Hook, the 2017 Las Vegas massacre which killed 58 people and left hundreds of others wounded, and the 2018 Parkland school shooting in which 14 students were killed and three other staff members were killed.
Koskoff stated that Remington’s marketing efforts for its AR-15-style rifles prior to the Sandy Hook shooting helped drive up sales. He said that only 100,000 AR-15s were sold each year in the U.S. between the mid- and late 2000s. He said that the number of AR-15s sold annually in the U.S. had risen to over 2 million by 2012.
Sandy Hook and his family blame Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity company, for pursuing increased rifle sales. They were more concerned with profits than safety. The firm was left a message seeking comments.
As Remington’s owner Cerberus was responsible for moving a lot of Remington’s focus away from hunting rifles to AR-15-style rifles, Koskoff stated.
Hockley stated that they were using fear tactics and toxic masculinity to appear more powerful and their documents speak about their target audience of military wannabes. “It is not that the settlement will stop firearm manufacturers in any manner. It’s about being responsible in your marketing.