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Question of the day

Thursday, Sep 29, 2022 - Posted by Isabel Miller


Survivors of the mass shooting at a suburban Chicago Independence Day parade and family members of those killed filed 11 lawsuits Wednesday against the manufacturer of the rifle used in the attack, accusing gun-maker Smith & Wesson of illegally targeting its ads at young men at risk of committing mass violence.

The sweeping effort by dozens of victims of the Highland Park shooting, anti-gun violence advocates and private attorneys announced Wednesday is the latest bid to hold gun manufacturers accountable for a mass killing despite broad protections for the industry in federal law.

The group’s strategy mirrors the approach used by relatives of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school killings, who in February reached a $73 million settlement with the firearm company that produced the rifle used in that attack. That was believed to be the largest payment by a gun-maker related to a mass killing and hinged on the families’ accusation that Remington violated Connecticut consumer protection law by marketing its AR-15-style weapons to young men already at risk of committing violence.

“The shooter did not act on his own,” said Alla Lefkowitz, senior director of affirmative litigation for the gun safety organization Everytown. “What happened in Highland Park on July 4 was the result of deliberate choices made by certain members of the industry.”

The complaint is here.

* USA Today

A central claim of the legal action is that the gun manufacturer behind the M&P 15 semiautomatic rifle illegally targeted young men at risk of violence with advertisements for firearms. […]

The suit alleges Smith & Wesson ads mimic a first-person shooter perspective depicted in many popular video games, utilize visuals of apparent military or law enforcement personnel and emphasize the gun’s combat features. […]

Families of Sandy Hook victims claimed Remington violated Connecticut consumer protection law by marketing its guns to young men with an existing risk of committing violence. A lawyer at the center of the Sandy Hook settlement issued a letter in June to the maker of the AR-15 used in the Uvalde Elementary School mass shooting in Texas on behalf of the father of one of the victims, seeking answers about marketing their products to teens and children.

In addition to Smith & Wesson, the accused gunman and his father, the victims are also suing Red Dot Arms, the gun store where the accused gunman purchased the weapon and Bud’s Gun Shop, an online gun distributor.

* Legal strategy breakdown by the Tribune

Gun manufacturers have historically been protected from lawsuits like this under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a law Congress passed in 2005 that gives gun manufacturers and dealers broad immunity from lawsuits. But attorneys and experts on Wednesday asserted that there is an exception that allows for the lawsuits to proceed.

“That exception is when a member of the gun industry knowingly violates a state or federal law applicable to the sale or marketing of firearms, and here that is exactly what is being alleged,” Alla Lefkowitz, senior director of affirmative litigation for Everytown Law, said at the news conference. “Smith & Wesson, in addition to the two guns shops named as defendants, did violate the law.”

Lefkowitz said the legal coalition believes Smith & Wesson violated Illinois consumer protection laws by using deceptive marketing and advertising to sell the M&P15 as a military weapon. But the lawsuit claims that the sales do not reflect this, and attorneys on Wednesday called the idea that the weapon was used by the military a “fiction” pushed by the company, which went so far as to trademark the name “M&P,” a reference to “military and police” as a way to attract customers. […]

It was people like Crimo, the lawsuit contends, that Smith & Wesson had directly in their crosshairs as they sought to make more money through such marketing, which also promised “more adrenaline” and encourages consumers to “kick brass.”

* ABC Chicago

While police say the assault-style rifle Crimo III allegedly used in the shooting, a Smith and Wesson M&P 15, was legally purchased, the lawsuit says Smith and Wesson “facilitates violence for profit,” and targets vulnerable young men to market their products too.

“The shooter fits the demographic of customers that Smith & Wesson targeted with its negligent and unlawful marketing,” the lawsuit says. “An avid user of the social media platforms used by Smith & Wesson to promote its assault rifles, the shooter displayed his hardcore violent fantasies online, styling himself on one platform as a “Master Gunnery Sergeant,” and on others as a video game assassin. He spewed hatred online and often posted videos of himself playing first-person-shooter games.”

The lawsuit says that after the shooting, Smith and Wesson portrayed itself as the victim and outlines what the plaintiffs say is a pattern and history of marketing towards young men with a propensity for violence.

“Smith & Wessson’s marketing campaigns don’t just blur the line between fantasy and reality, they destroy it,” said attorney Ari Scharg, with Edelson.

* Sun-Times

The civil lawsuits now pending in Lake County are separate from the criminal charges that shooting suspect Robert Crimo III faces and assert the defendants violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act, which prohibits consumer fraud and deceptive practices. […]

The gunmaker, 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 Crimo — and social influencers as marketing tools.

“For Smith & Wesson, the younger the shooter, the better,” the lawsuits say.

They say the gunmaker’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 Question: Your thoughts on this legal action?

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  1. - Joe Schmoe - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 3:05 pm:

    Maybe a lawsuit or two against some video game creators. If you’ve never seen or experienced one you would be shocked. The can easily influence an unstable mind to justify their distorted actions.

  2. - MisterJayEm - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 3:10 pm:

    “Your thoughts on this legal action?”

    How could a company that designed, manufactured and marketed a device for killing people ever suspect that their device designed, manufactured and marketed for killing people might one day be used for killing people?

    – MrJM

  3. - #5 - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 3:12 pm:

    Really, video games? Last time I checked I couldn’t kill someone with a video game. (Maybe an old-timey cartridge type if I tried really, really hard. . .) Guns, on the other hand, are meant for killing.
    I hope these lawsuits are successful. Something has to be done. (Something other than blaming video games and social media I mean.)

  4. - Anon E Moose - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 3:13 pm:

    I’m surprised there isn’t a claim for wrongful death. I also expect S&W removes this to federal court ASAP.

  5. - Anon E Moose - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 3:31 pm:

    “Fast food has killed a lot of people”

    I think that’s a little disingenuous. Fast food, while unhealthy, is not designed to kill people.

  6. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 3:32 pm:

    People, stick to the question. Not interested in your red herrings. Final warning. Deletions to follow.

  7. - sulla - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 3:35 pm:

    The civil suit is dumb and hopefully gets tossed.

    I own the exact rifle referenced in the complaint. For you non firearm folks, the M&P and M&P II are basic budget black rifles that retail for around $500. They’re pretty accurate out of the box and idiot-proof to clean and maintain. The M&P is basically the Ford Escort of black rifles and S&W has sold millions of them.

  8. - Norseman - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 3:36 pm:

    I’m hoping the families succeed and get a humongous settlement.

  9. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 3:39 pm:

    This is no different than suing Ford over the Pinto’s gas tanks …

  10. - FormerParatrooper - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 3:58 pm:

    Smith and Wesson manufactured a legal product, distributed the product legally and their advertising did not mke an individual commit a criminal act. Where he had the firearm transfered for purchase followed the law.

    We could say looking how he dressed and presented himself should have given pause to complete the purchase, but that is too subjective.

    I understand the individual doesn’t have millions of dollars but the insurers of every buisness has insurance for such suits.

    Advertising, Call of Duty video games are not the blame either. The sole responsibility belongs to the individual who committed the act.

  11. - Papa2008 - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 4:03 pm:

    The gas tank was a defect. No defects in the rifle. Worked as advertised.

  12. - lowdrag - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 4:06 pm:

    Lawsuit should be tossed. Firearms dont get marketed any different than anything else.

  13. - Thomas Paine - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 4:10 pm:

    === M&P and M&P II are basic budget black rifles that retail for around $500. They’re pretty accurate out of the box and idiot-proof to clean and maintain. ===

    You could have just said “So simple a child could use them” and we could have moved straight to a verdict and awarding damages.

    It’s a feature, not a bug, got it.

  14. - Must win - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 4:11 pm:

    I hope they bankrupt smith and then force all the others to close out of fear…

  15. - Bear3 - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 4:22 pm:

    Everyone wants to sue and recover for the errors of another. No common sense and a lawyer on every corner. How much has been recovered from the people that used the weapons on other? People will always go after THE BIG POCKETS

  16. - Sue - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 4:25 pm:

    This legal action seems to want to make a political statement more then obtain a monetary recovery. Suing either of the Crimo’s is utterly idiotic as both the father and his Cretan son are bankrupt. The suit against a gun manufacturer is a stretch as the Company sells a legal product. Is it the responsibility of the manufacturer or the State to protect citizens from sociopaths?

  17. - thunderspirit - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 4:28 pm:

    While I tend to agree with MrJM’s take on this, I think the burden of proof will be pretty tough to make stick.

  18. - DuPage - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 4:30 pm:

    @3:58===but the insurers of every business has insurance for such suits===

    They could find out who the insurance company is and boycott them.

  19. - Anonymous - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 4:34 pm:

    Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act - (Sec. 3) Prohibits a qualified civil liability action from being brought in any state or federal court against a manufacturer or seller of a firearm, ammunition, or a component of a firearm that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce, or against a trade association of such manufacturers or sellers, for damages, punitive damages, injunctive or declaratory relief, abatement, restitution, fines, penalties, or other relief resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a firearm. Requires pending actions to be dismissed

  20. - MisterJayEm - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 4:42 pm:

    “Firearms dont get marketed any different than anything else.”


    Examples from the filing:

    – MrJM

  21. - Demoralized - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 4:42 pm:

    I support the lawsuit. I think gun manufacturers should think twice about the kind of weapons they produce and market.

  22. - Demoralized - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 4:45 pm:


    I don’t think you read any of the post. Your copy and paste was addressed in the post. Re-read it and try again.

  23. - rtov - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 4:47 pm:

    I’m surprised there has not been a bigger push to ban the production rather than the possession of the weapons. There is no right to produce the weapons.

  24. - MisterJayEm - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 4:50 pm:

    “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act - (Sec. 3)”

    If defending against this law suit was a simple as waving that statute around, Remington wouldn’t be bankrupt and its insurance companies wouldn’t have paid the Sandy Hook families $73 million dollars.

    – MrJM

  25. - Must win - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 5:15 pm:

    I support the lawsuit. I think gun manufacturers should think twice about the kind of weapons they produce and market.

    ???? Under that logic all guns and gun makers should be rid of? They produce guns.are you restricting the type of gun? Even a gun that shoots 1 bullet can kill..where you draw line? They tried banning big magazines to only hold seven bulkets? Ok shoot seven then reload and shoot seven more? What’s the difference.

  26. - Amalia - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 6:00 pm:

    the marketing angle worked in a lawsuit before, let’s win it again. they make bigger and badder guns to attract buyers, sow reap.

  27. - Jocko - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 6:23 pm:

    ==Ok shoot seven then reload and shoot seven more? What’s the difference.==

    Time to get out of the line of fire?

  28. - Suburban Mom - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 8:59 pm:

    Exempting gun manufacturers from tort suits has been appalling for a long time. Exempting gun owners from insurance moreso.

    All conservatives should approve of requiring gun owners to have insurance. The cost of the risk should belong to the person taking the risk. Shootings would fall dramatically if gun owners had to insure their guns the way car owners have to insure their cars.

  29. - Guy Probably - Thursday, Sep 29, 22 @ 9:31 pm:

    ==shoot seven then reload and shoot seven more? What’s the difference.==

    Time. Time is the difference. As someone who was at the parade. At the corner where he was firing 20 rounds at a time into a crowd. I didn’t react to what was happening until he reloaded. Having that time is essential.

    To the question. I support the lawsuit. I don’t know if it will be successful, but as a society, we can’t keep blaming just individuals as we have a systemic problem that needs systemic fixes. Will this lawsuit fix everything? Not a chance. But maybe it’s one small step.

  30. - Blue Dog - Friday, Sep 30, 22 @ 7:30 am:


  31. - XonXoff - Friday, Sep 30, 22 @ 8:10 am:

    I see ads for lawsuits against Roundup and asbestos claims. Seems like guns should be fair game.

  32. - Mason born - Friday, Sep 30, 22 @ 8:25 am:

    Mister Jay em

    Those examples are footage from what looks like a 3 gun competition shoot. Hard to see advertising for a competition capable weapon to shoot at targets is truly a stretch.

  33. - Blues Fan - Friday, Sep 30, 22 @ 8:43 am:

    The lawsuit should be tossed. Hold the person that commits the act accountable, not the device.

  34. - H-W - Friday, Sep 30, 22 @ 8:44 am:

    I am not convinced this sort of lawsuit will survive on appeal. At some point, a judge will reason that if we cannot hold communities, states, and the federal government responsible for the failure to regulate access to weapons, then we cannot expect firearms producers to do better than local, state, and federal governments.

  35. - Elmer Keith - Friday, Sep 30, 22 @ 11:00 am:

    Under the Constitution, in civil procedures, anyone can sue practically anyone else for almost anything. In that sense I support the families right to sue, especially the Crimo parents.

    That being said, I don’t see any debate or discussion about removing these types of firearms from militarized police departments, which is a systemic danger to the rule of law. I find the cop armored cars in Highland Park more frightening than the lone wacko.

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