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Families of Texas school shooting victims sue gunmaker, Instagram

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Houston, United States—Several families whose children were killed or wounded in a mass shooting at their Texas school two years ago have sued the gun manufacturer as well as Instagram and video game company Activision for marketing the weapon, their lawyer said Friday.

Nineteen young children and two teachers were killed in the city of Uvalde on May 24, 2022 when a teenage gunman went on a rampage with an AR-15 style assault rifle at Robb Elementary School, in America’s deadliest school shooting in a decade.

The families accuse the companies of wrongful death and gross negligence, saying gun manufacturer Daniel Defense, as well as Meta-owned Instagram and Microsoft-owned Activision, whose “Call of Duty” video game features the weapon, marketed it to “insecure, adolescent boys,” according to a statement from lawyer Josh Koskoff.

Koskoff insisted there was a direct line between the companies’ conduct and the Uvalde shooting because the gunman purchased the weapon immediately after turning 18, the legal age in Texas to purchase long guns such as rifles.

“Well before he was old enough to purchase it, he was targeted and cultivated online by Instagram, Activision and Daniel Defense,” Koskoff said in his statement.

“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.”

Activision issued a statement saying the Uvalde shooting was “horrendous and heartbreaking in every way” and expressed sympathies to the families.

It added: “Millions of people around the world enjoy video games without turning to horrific acts.”

Meta and Daniel Defense did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment.

Earlier this week, Uvalde families reached a $2 million settlement with the Texas city over what the Justice Department called “critical failures” by police in responding to the shooting.

Officers eventually shot and killed the gunman, but waited more than an hour before storming the classroom where he was holed up.

School shootings have become a regular occurrence in a country where about a third of adults own a firearm and regulations on purchasing even powerful military style rifles are lax. AFP

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