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Families of Parkland school shooting victims file complaint against gun manufacturer

Lawsuit is first in Florida to be filed against gun industry since shooting

By Amanda Batchelor – Senior Digital Editor

PARKLAND, Fla. – The families of two of the the 17 victims killed in the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer and seller of the Smith and Wesson M&P15 semiautomatic rifle used in the Parkland shooting.

Fred and Jennifer Guttenberg, the parents of Jaime Guttenberg, 14, and Max Schachter, the father of Alex Schachter, 14, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Broward Circuit Court.

According to a news release announcing the legal action, the complaint for declaratory relief calls for the court “to clarify Florida Statute §790.331, which shields firearm manufacturers and sellers from certain civil litigation.”

The families are seeking for a Broward County judge to clear the way for them to sue American Outdoor Brands, formerly known as Smith & Wesson, and Sunrise Tactical Supply.

Sunrise Tactical Supply is the small Coral Springs store where authorities said former Stoneman Douglas student Nikolas Cruz, 19, legally purchased an AR-15 a year before the school shooting.

The complaint argues that the statute was intended to protect gun manufacturers and sellers from civil lawsuits by government entities, not lawsuits from private victims of gun violence.

“What I have learned in this process since Feb. 14 — the day they were murdered with an AR-15 — nobody says, ‘We can be responsible,'” Fred Guttenberg said Thursday at a news conference. “Our legislators won’t do anything about the law. The gun lobby says we shouldn’t do anything about the law. The manufactures, marketers and sellers of these guns say, ‘It’s not our fault.’ This is the only industry where there is apparently a protected class. Well, we’re going to change history and break that protection.”

This is the first lawsuit to be filed in Florida against the firearms industry since the Parkland shooting.

According to attorney Stephen F. Rosenthal, of Podhurst Orseck, who represents the Guttenberg family, “the statute’s drastic monetary penalties have previously intimidated victims from suing gun manufacturers and sellers,” the news release stated.

Fred Guttenberg said he has filed the lawsuit and is in fighting for change in the law protecting gun manufacturers and sellers in honor of his daughter.

“There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t look at pictures or videos, where I don’t think 24/7 about her, where I don’t cry,” he said.