HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The son of one of 10 people killed in a Colorado supermarket in 2021 is suing gunmaker Sturm, Ruger & Co. for marketing the firearm used in the massacre — under the established roadmap for litigation by families of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Connecticut state court, where Sturm, Ruger & Co. is based in Fairfield, alleges the company marketed its AR-556 pistol in a “reckless” and “immoral” manner that caused the enhanced his ability to kill. It is demanding damages of an unknown amount.
Nathaniel Getz, whose mother Suzanne Fountain was killed in a shootout at a King Soopers store in Boulder on March 22, 2021, filed the lawsuit – the first relative of the 10 victims, his attorney Andrew Garza said.
“We have filed the lawsuit with both to seek justice for the victim’s family but also to hold them accountable and also to perform a preventive function to protect future victims,” Garza said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
“We believe they marketed it in a way that was intended to appeal to the militarization of young people, glorified individual shooters, and we believe that, particularly after the Sandy Hook shooting, they had a moral responsibility to do better.” , he said .
Getz and representatives from Sturm, Ruger & Co. did not immediately respond to email messages asking for comment Wednesday.
The lawsuit comes just days before the two-year anniversary of the shooting and days before the two-year statute of limitations for filing such a lawsuit in Connecticut expired. Garza urged the families of the other victims to join the legal battle.
The Colorado gunman, 23-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, is charged with opening fire outside and inside the store – killing customers, workers and a police officer who were trying to stop the attack. Alissa, who suffers from schizophrenia, was declared unfit to stand trial. He is charged with murder and multiple attempted murders.
Investigators, who have not disclosed a possible motive, said Alissa passed a background check to legally purchase a Ruger AR-556 pistol six days before the shooting.
Lawsuits against gun manufacturers for damage caused by their products were generally banned by a controversial 2005 federal law that shielded them from liability, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
However, the law recognizes exceptions. The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that gunmaker Remington could be sued under an exemption by Sandy Hook families over the way it markets its Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle. The US Supreme Court declined to hear Remington’s appeal of that ruling in 2019, and the company eventually settled with the families for $73 million.
The case has been closely watched by gun control advocates, gun rights advocates and manufacturers as it could provide a roadmap for victims of other shootings to sue gun manufacturers.
Twenty first graders and six educators were killed on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
The families of nine victims and one survivor sued Remington. Allegedly, the company targeted at-risk men with advertising and product placement in violent video games. One of Remington’s ads featured the Bushmaster rifle against a plain background and the phrase, “Consider Your Man Card Reissued.”
The lawsuit against Sturm, Ruger & Co. alleges that the company’s marketing materials contained phrases similar to “Anything else would be un-American.”
The version of the Ruger AR-556 used in shooting in Colorado was technically a pistol but resembled an AR-15 rifle. Getz’s lawsuit alleges that the company manufactured the pistol version to circumvent laws regulating guns.