Survivors of the mass shooting at an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago and family members of those killed filed 11 lawsuits on Wednesday against the maker of the rifle used in the attack, based in Chicago. Springfield, accusing gun maker Smith & Wesson of illegally targeting its ads at young men at risk of committing mass violence.
The sweeping effort by dozens of Highland Park shooting victims, gun violence advocates and private lawyers announced Wednesday is the latest attempt to hold gunmakers accountable for a massacre despite broad protections for the industry in federal law.
The group’s strategy mirrors the approach used by relatives of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school murders, who in February reached a $73 million settlement with the gun company that produced the rifle used in this attack. It was thought to be the largest payout from a gunmaker linked to a massacre and was based on the families’ accusation that Remington violated Connecticut’s consumer protection law by marketing its AR-15 weapons to young men already at risk of committing violence. .
“The shooter did not act on his own,” said Alla Lefkowitz, senior director of affirmative litigation for gun safety organization Everytown. “What happened at Highland Park on the 4th of July is the result of deliberate choices made by certain members of the industry.”
Liz Turnipseed is among the survivors at Highland Park, alleging the gunmaker, the accused shooter, his father and two gun dealers bear some responsibility for the attack.
In an interview with The Associated Press this week, Turnipseed said before the shots rang out that she was enjoying the parade with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, pointing to the instruments of the high school orchestra. Turnipseed fell to the ground after being shot in the pelvis and remembers seeing her daughter’s stroller on the side and asking her husband to get their daughter to safety.
Representatives for Smith & Wesson, based in Springfield, Mass., did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on Wednesday.
Prosecutors said Robert E. Crimo III admitted to the Parade killings once police arrested him hours after the attack. Authorities identified the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 semi-automatic rifle as the weapon he used to fire during the parade.