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Families of Parkland victims sue maker, seller of gun used in shooting

By Sara Shayanian

May 24 (UPI) — The families of two students who died in the Parkland, Fla., shooting are suing the maker and a seller of the gun used by Nikolas Cruz, saying they’re partly responsible for the attack.

The parents of 14-year-old freshmen Jaime Guttenberg and Alex Schachter have filed lawsuits against gun-maker American Outdoor Brands and gun-seller Sunrise Tactical Supply, where Cruz purchased the AR-15-style weapon used in the Feb. 14 assault.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Broward County Circuit Court, says Fred and Jennifer Guttenberg and Max Schacter hold both companies legally complicit for “the entirely foreseeable, deadly use of the assault-style weapons that they place on the market.”

“Bottom line, we need to hold people accountable for this gun violence,” Fred Guttenberg said on Twitter.

Judges must first clarify that gun manufacturers and sellers can be sued by victims. A 2001 state law — Florida Statute 790.331 — explicitly prohibits state, county and city government agencies from suing businesses over legal manufacture and sale of weapons that are used in crimes.

The law does not, however, state whether victims can sue on similar grounds.

“A confusingly written Florida statute stands in the way,” the lawsuit says, noting that the students’ families will be forced to pay legal fees if they lose the case.

The suit is the first against the firearm industry in Florida since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Others have been filed against Cruz, the family that took him in after his mother’s death and a school resource officer who didn’t enter the building during the attack. Some families have also indicated they might sue the sheriff’s office and school board in Broward County.

The legal action follows a lawsuit in Connecticut Wednesday, in which the families of six victims killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School attack sue radio show host Alex Jones.

The suit says Jones defamed them by denouncing the shooting, which killed 26 children and adults, as a hoax. The families say Jones used his radio platform to push a conspiracy theory that the shooting was a staged event.

“Jones’s actions subjected the families and survivors of the Sandy Hook shooting to physical confrontations and harassment, death threats and personal attacks on social media,” the families’ attorneys said in a statement to NBC News. “Alex Jones and his co-conspirators engineered and maintained this campaign for a simple reason: greed.”

Jones, who runs a website called Infowars, has also theorized the U.S. government was involved in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the Sept. 11 attacks, and faking the NASA moon landings between 1969 and 1972.