The son of a woman killed in a supermarket mass shooting in Colorado has filed a lawsuit against the gun manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Co.
Nathaniel Getz filed in Connecticut state court on March 14, arguing the company marketed its AR-556 in a “reckless” and “immoral” manner. The gun manufacturer is headquartered in Southport, Connecticut.
“We believe they marketed it in a way that was meant to appeal to the militarization of young individuals, glorified lone shooters and, especially in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, we think they had a moral responsibility to do better,” said Andrew Garza, Getz’s attorney, in a statement to NBC News on March 15. “We filed the lawsuit both to seek justice for the family of the victim, but also to hold them accountable and to serve a preventative function as well, to protect future victims.”
Getz’s mother, Suzzane Fountain, was one of 10 people who died on March 22, 2021 in Boulder after a shooter opened fire in a King Sooper store. The victims included customers, workers and one police officer
Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, the shooter, was diagnosed with schizophrenia and ruled incompetent to stand trial. He passed a background check and purchased a Ruger AR-556 six days before his attack. He was charged with 10 counts of murder and 47 counts of attempted murder.
Alissa is currently being treated at the Colorado mental hospital in Pueblo. Doctors testified at a Jan. 27 hearing that he may eventually be able to stand trial following further treatment, per Fox News.
Getz and his lawyer argued that the AR-556 pistol was intentionally designed to circumvent rifle regulations. The lawsuit states the company conceived the gun to be “an entry-level AR-15 style rifle” with “features that were chosen to maximize casualties and engineered to deliver maximum carnage with extreme efficiency.”
The plaintiff also takes issue with promotional material created by Strum, Ruger & Co., including the slogan “Anything else would be un-American.”
“Ruger’s militaristic marketing promoted the image of its AR-556s as combat weapons used for the purpose of waging war and killing human beings,” states the lawsuit. “Ruger’s marketing glorified the lone gunman. Ruger’s marketing promoted lone gunman assaults. … Ruger’s marketing promoted its AR-556s for mass casualty assaults.”
The amount of financial compensation Getz is seeking was not disclosed in the lawsuit, which was filed just days before the two-year statute of limitations expired.
While gun makers are typically protected from lawsuits of this nature through the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005, Connecticut’s judicial branch has granted exceptions in recent history.
The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting could sue gun maker Remington for marketing its Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle. Remington appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case and the company ultimately settled for $73 million.