For the first time ever in the U.S., a gun maker is being held liable for a mass shooting, in a trailblazing settlement for Sandy Hook families. On Tuesday, Remington Arms agreed “to settle liability claims from the families of five adults and four children killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, according to a new court filing…Remington agreed to pay the families $73 million.”  

President Biden called this moment “historic,” adding “While this settlement does not erase the pain of that tragic day, it does begin the necessary work of holding gun manufacturers accountable for manufacturing weapons of war and irresponsibly marketing these firearms.” 

Remington was the maker of the AR-15 style weapon, which was used during the attack. Relatives of the victims filed the lawsuit, and Josh Koskoff, their lead lawyer said, “These nine families have shared a single goal from the very beginning: to do whatever they could to help prevent the next Sandy Hook…It is hard to imagine an outcome that better accomplishes that goal.” 

Francine Wheeler, mother of Benjamin, a 6-year-old who was killed in shooting, said “Our legal system has given us some justice today…But David and I will never have true justice. True justice would be our 15-year-old healthy and standing next to us right now.” Benjamin’s father, David also reflected, “Perhaps there’s some solace in knowing, or thinking or hoping that another family will be spared this kind of tragedy and trauma and loss because another young person doesn’t feel it necessary to make themselves feel like more of a man, or more effective or make a mark in society by using this in the wrong way.” 

Nicole Hockley, mom to one of the victims, said, “Nothing will bring Dylan back…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.” 

While federal laws typically protect gunmakers from liability suits, the families were able to successfully contend that Remington “promoted sales of the weapon that appealed to troubled men like the killer who stormed into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, killing 20 first graders and six adults,” which violated the state’s consumer laws, in a prioritization of profit over public safety. 

This marks the near-end of the road for the lawsuit that was filed in 2015. Those on either side of the issue, both gun rights advocates and supporters, have attentively been following the results of this case due to the potential ramifications for precedence with regard to victims of other mass shootings and their ability to successfully sue gunmakers for liability.  

While this is one of the largest settlements in a case such as this, “[t]he settlement still needs a judge’s approval to be final.”