Highland Park Survivors Sue Smith & Wesson And Gun Dealers
Kamala Harris in Highland Park after shootingCredit: Office of Vice President Kamala Harris, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
September 29, 2022

If Congress won’t act to stop mass shootings, maybe hitting the purveyors of violence in their pocketbooks will do the trick.

The survivors of the July 4th Highland Park, IL shooting have sued gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson, the gun distributor, the gun retailer, the shooter and his father.

The Chicago Sun-Times says the suits “could have wide implications for gun-makers.”

The gun-maker, the lawsuits say, “markets its assault rifles to young, impulsive men by appealing to their propensity for risk and excitement,” by maintaining an active presence on social media using violent video games — including ones played by [shooter Robert] Crimo — and social influencers as marketing tools.

They say the gun-maker’s marketing campaign continued even though Smith & Wesson “knew or should have known in the last decade, mass shooters have used Smith & Wesson weapons as their weapons of choice.”

The gun-maker “facilitates violence for profit,” those suing say, with “marketing and promotion” that aim to attract “young men looking for military-style rifles to act out a perverse combat fantasy of killing as many people as possible.”

The complaint brought by the Roberts family, whose mother and two sons were wounded in the shooting, notes that the same assault rifle was also used in the shooting massacres in Aurora, Colorado (2012); San Bernardino, California (2015); and Parkland, Florida (2018).

The Sun-Times explains that the cases build upon a landmark $73 million settlement reached by the Sandy Hook families and Remington Arms, which made the assault weapon used in that massacre.

“When you think about tobacco litigation, when you think about opioid litigation that has been so successful over the past few years, it’s not just one lawsuit,” said Alla Lefkowitz, an attorney with Everytown Law, which also is representing the Highland Park plaintiffs, along with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, part of the Sandy Hook legal team. “You need numerous successful lawsuits to really make a difference, to really have business reform to really save lives.”

It's tragic that the only way to stop the mass killings may be through a financial incentive but here we are.

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