Relatives of victims of the Uvalde school shooting sue Microsoft, Meta and weapons manufacturer | News about gun violence

Relatives of victims killed in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, have filed two wrongful death lawsuits: one against the firearms manufacturer and another against two technology companies, Meta and Microsoft, for their alleged role in the marketing of the weapon used.

Friday’s pair of lawsuits came on the second anniversary of the school shooting, one of the deadliest in U.S. history.

The gunman, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, attacked Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022, killing 19 children and two teachers, leaving 17 more people injured.

The defendant in the first lawsuit, filed in Uvalde County District Court, is Daniel Defense, a Georgia-based gun manufacturer that produced the rifle used by the gunman.

The second lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, targets Meta, owner of the social media platform Instagram, and the video game company Activision Blizzard, a subsidiary of Microsoft.

The complaint alleges that Activision’s first-person shooter game Call of Duty played a key role in shaping the gunfighter’s mindset.

He noted that the game bases its weapons on real-life models, and that the gunslinger had been playing since he was 15 years old.

Call of Duty “creates a vividly realistic and addictive theater of violence in which teenagers learn to kill with terrifying skill and ease,” the lawsuit says.

That, in turn, led the attacker to search for the gun he used in the video game as soon as he turned 18, according to the lawsuit.

It also alleges that the gunman consumed pro-gun marketing on Instagram that reinforced the violent images he saw in the video game.

“At the same time, on Instagram, the shooter was being courted through explicit and aggressive marketing,” the families said in a statement.

“In addition to hundreds of images depicting and venerating the thrill of combat, Daniel Defense used Instagram to praise the illegal and murderous use of its weapons.”

The lawsuit accuses Instagram of failing to exercise adequate oversight over its platform, thus allowing gun sellers to have “an unsupervised channel to speak directly to minors, in their homes, at school, even in the middle of the night.”

In their statement, the families allege that Daniel Defense and the two technology companies together participated in a “scheme that preys on insecure teens.”

“There is a direct line between the conduct of these companies and the Uvalde shooting,” said Josh Koskoff, an attorney representing the families.

“This three-headed monster knowingly exposed him to the weapon, conditioned him to see it as a tool to solve his problems, and trained him to use it.”

Koskoff’s firm, Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, previously represented the families of victims killed in the 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, ultimately reaching a $73 million settlement with the gun maker. Remington in 2022.

Daniel Defensa already faces other lawsuits related to the Uvalde shooting. In an appearance before the US Congress in 2022, the company’s CEO, Marty Daniels, denounced the attack as “pure evil.”

However, in a statement that same year, Daniels also called similar lawsuits against companies like his “frivolous” and “politically motivated.”

Activision also condemned the Uvalde shooting, saying it was “horrible and heartbreaking in every way.”

“We express our deepest condolences to the families and communities who continue to be affected by this senseless act of violence,” he said in a statement.

But, he added, “millions of people around the world enjoy video games without resorting to horrible acts.”

A video game industry lobby group, the Entertainment Software Association, also noted that people in other countries play video games without resorting to the levels of violence seen in the United States.

“We are saddened and outraged by the senseless acts of violence,” the group said in a statement.

“At the same time, we discourage unfounded accusations linking these tragedies to video games, which detracts from efforts to focus on the fundamental issues at hand and protect against future tragedies.”

Gun ownership is a prominent part of American culture, and the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right to “keep and bear arms.”

Earlier this week, the families of Uvalde victims reached a $2 million settlement with the small Texas city after the Justice Department found “cascading flaws” in the way law enforcement order responded to the shooting, due to training and communication issues.

A separate federal lawsuit was filed Wednesday against the 100 state police officers involved in responding to the shooting.

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