Uvalde Families Sue Instagram and Activision Over Promotion of Guns

The families of schoolchildren who were shot at Robb Elementary School in 2022 filed two lawsuits on Friday accusing Instagram, the publisher of the popular “Call of Duty” video game and a manufacturer of semiautomatic rifles of helping to train and equip the teenage gunman who committed the massacre.

The unusual lawsuits were filed on the second anniversary of the elementary school shooting, in which 19 fourth-graders and two teachers were killed in their classrooms by an 18-year-old gunman who had purchased his weapon — an AR-15-style rifle — a few days before, as soon as he was legally able.

While much of the attention in the aftermath of the shooting has been on the flawed police response, the two suits — one filed in California and the other in Texas — focus on the gunman and the companies that he regularly interacted with leading up to the shooting. Each company, the lawsuits claim, took part in “grooming” the teenager to become a mass shooter.

Together, the suits are among the most far-reaching actions to be filed in response to the escalating number of mass shootings in the United States. The California suit, which names the publisher Activision, appeared to be one of the first to go after a video game maker for helping to promote weapons used in mass shootings.

The lawsuits argue that the gun maker, Daniel Defense, would not have been able to connect with the gunman, a socially isolated teenager living in rural Texas, without the help of the technology and video game companies.

The Uvalde families are represented by Josh Koskoff, a lawyer who has previously challenged gunmakers over mass shootings. In 2022, Mr. Koskoff reached a $73 million settlement with Remington, the maker of another AR-15-style rifle that was used in the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting that left 26 people dead in Connecticut in 2012.

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