The victory of the Sandy Hook families only underscores the broader failure of gun policy in the United States

WASHINGTON, DC — Remington, the company that made the AR-15-style gun used in the Sandy Hook mass shooting nearly a decade ago, has agreed to pay $73 million to the families of nine of the 26 victims – five adults and four children.

It is worthy of interest. The settlement, which comes more than seven years after the families’ first lawsuit, marks the first time a gunsmith has been held liable for a shooting.

As the families said, their goal was not compensation. As part of the deal, they get Release information on, among other things, how Remington marketed the semi-automatic shotgun to appeal to struggling young men such as the Sandy Hook shooter. One of Remington’s campaign slogans read, “Consider your man card reissued.”

“My beautiful butterfly, Dylan, left because Remington prioritized his profit over my son’s safety. Marketing weapons of war directly to young people known to have a strong fascination with guns is reckless and, as too many families know, murderous driving,” Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed that day, said in a statement. “My hope is that by facing and ultimately being penalized for the impact of their work, arms companies, along with the insurance and banking industries that enable them, will be compelled to make their business practices safer than they have ever been.”

Perhaps arms company executives will think twice about addressing male vulnerability and toxic masculinity when marketing their products. I don’t want to minimize the fight these families have fought over the past seven years, nor denigrate or minimize the history they have written.

Yet there is something sad, at least for me, in the fact that, all these years later, it is change that has been achieved. The families themselves fought to make this information public, and they won. In the aftermath of the shooting, however, Congress failed to pass gun control legislation.

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Last December, US President Joe Biden called on the Senate to pass legislation on background checks; legislation to keep guns away from aggressors; and the Build Back Better Act, which included community violence intervention programs. The Senate did not pass this bill. Almost 20,000 people have died of gun violence in the United States in the past year. About fifty people were kill in a 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting; 59 at a music festival in Las Vegas in 2017; and 17 in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018.

Students across America practice active shooting exercises. Adults have failed to pass legislation that could stop school shootings from happening, so it’s up to students – children – to prepare for what will happen if there’s an attack on their school.

Huge thanks to the families who fought and won against Remington. I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a family member, let alone a very young child, in a school shooting, to see Congress fail to act, and to take it upon myself to try to make safer things for other children and families.

Yet, as brave as they were and as they are, and as important as this trial is, I cannot help but feel that this is a partial victory: that the trial itself will no more stop school shootings than active fire drills have. The families wanted to educate the public about the arms manufacturers’ marketing. And they did.

But we knew before this week that something had to change in American politics. We knew before this trial that something was broken. It’s still broken. And I don’t think, even with this settlement, we’re much closer to fixing that.

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