Families of Uvalde Tragedy Sue Daniel Defense, Meta, Activision and the State of Texas

by Tommy Grant
Uvalde Texas School Shooting

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On the second anniversary of the Robb Elementary School attack, families in Uvalde pursued further legal action, suing Meta Platforms, which owns Instagram, and Activision Blizzard, the maker of Call of Duty, claiming these companies bear responsibility for products used by the teenage gunman, AP News reports.

The families also filed a new lawsuit against Daniel Defense, the manufacturer of the AR-style rifle used in the May 24, 2022, shooting, adding to the existing lawsuits against the company. This action coincided with the small Texas city gathering to mourn the anniversary of one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, where the gunman killed 19 students and two teachers. Officers confronted and shot the attacker after waiting over an hour to enter the fourth-grade classroom.

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

Additionally, some of the same families had earlier filed a $500 million lawsuit against Texas state police officials and officers involved in the delayed law enforcement response on that day. Over 370 federal, state and local officers responded but waited more than an hour to confront the shooter inside the classroom, as students and teachers lay dead, dying or wounded.

These lawsuits are not the first to accuse technology companies of influencing or radicalizing mass shooters. Families of victims from a May 2022 attack on a Buffalo, New York, supermarket have also sued social media companies, including Meta and Instagram, over platform content.

The lawsuit against Georgia-based gun-maker Daniel Defense was filed in Texas by the same 19 families who sued earlier. The lawsuits against Meta and Activision Blizzard were filed in California, involving additional families of victims from the attack.

Activision Blizzard described the Uvalde shooting as “horrendous and heartbreaking,” expressing deep sympathies to the affected families and communities. Meanwhile, a video game industry trade group also disputed the connection between video games and violence, citing research showing no link.

The Entertainment Software Association stated, “We are saddened and outraged by senseless acts of violence. At the same time, we discourage baseless accusations linking these tragedies to video gameplay, which detract from efforts to focus on the root issues in question and safeguard against future tragedies.” They pointed out that millions of people play video games without resorting to real world violence or attacks.

The amount of damages sought in the new lawsuits was not immediately clear. According to the lawsuits, the Uvalde shooter had played Call of Duty since he was 15, including a version that allowed practice with the rifle he used at the school. The families accused Instagram of inadequate enforcement of its rules against marketing firearms and harmful content to children.

The shooter reportedly opened an account with Daniel Defense before his 18th birthday and purchased the rifle as soon as he legally could. The families’ attorneys claimed, “Simultaneously, on Instagram, the shooter was being courted through explicit, aggressive marketing. In addition to hundreds of images depicting and venerating the thrill of combat, Daniel Defense used Instagram to extol the illegal, murderous use of its weapons.”

Daniel Defense and Meta did not immediately respond to requests for comment by the AP. In a 2022 congressional hearing, Daniel Defense CEO Marty Daniels called the Uvalde shooting “pure evil” and “deeply disturbing.”

A separate lawsuit filed by different plaintiffs in December 2022 against local and state police, the city and other school and law enforcement agencies seeks at least $27 billion and class-action status for survivors. At least two other lawsuits have been filed against Daniel Defense.

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