The Sandy Hook Settlement Could Transform the Marketing of GunsRoundup
tags: masculinity, Second Amendment, guns, violence, Sandy Hook, Toxic masculinity
Tracy L. Barnett is PhD candidate in history at the University of Georgia.
On Feb. 15, 2022, Remington Arms reached a $73 million-dollar settlement with the families of the victims of the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six staff members.
Nine of the victims’ families sued. They argued that Remington violated state consumer laws based on their advertising of the weapon used in the shooting, a .223-caliber Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle. The “Consider Your Man Card Reissued” ad campaign, for example, implied that buying this particular rifle restored masculinity. Bushmaster’s website declared — before the text was quickly removed after the massacre — “In a world of rapidly depleting testosterone, the Bushmaster Man Card declares and confirms that you are a man’s man.” The aggressive marketing strategy used by Remington, the plaintiffs contended, directly targeted at-risk young men like Lanza.
The now-bankrupt Remington Arms did not formally accept liability. But this historic settlement indicates that gun manufacturers can face financial consequences for the use of their products under some circumstances and be held accountable for their marketing. “This victory should serve as a wake-up call not only to the gun industry but also the insurance and banking companies that prop it up,” said Josh Koskoff, a lawyer for the victims’ families. “For the gun industry,” he said, “it’s time to stop recklessly marketing all guns to all people for all uses and instead ask how marketing can lower risk rather than court it.”
This settlement marks a sharp departure from precedent. Dating back to the 19th century, firearms manufacturers have avoided responsibility for the violent acts committed with their rifles and pistols, even as they have aggressively marketed their lethal products to White men and boys.
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