The Weekly Reload Podcast

Cam Edwards on How Bad the Sandy Hook Settlement is for the Gun Industry

February 21st, 2022

Insurers for the defunct Remington Outdoor Company paid out a $73 million settlement to families of the Sandy Hook victims. It was the first time any gun company, even a bankrupt and dismantled one, has ever paid money to plaintiffs who claimed they were at least partially responsible for the criminal acts of a third party. It's an unprecedented situation that raises a ton of questions.

That's why I brought on one of the best gun writers out there: Bearing Arms editor Cam Edwards.

Cam and I go through the 6-year timeline of the case and talk about how we got to this settlement. The case was filed in 2015 with three different claims for how Remington was liable for the actions of the shooter. Two of those arguments dealt with how selling the AR-15, the most popular rifle in America, to civilians was unacceptable because the plaintiffs view them as "weapons of war." Those claims were tossed by the Connecticut Supreme Court.

However, the same court allowed the third claim that Remington's advertising violated Connecticut law and contributed to the lethality of the attack to move forward. The United States Supreme Court declined to intervene after that and Remington Outdoor Company filed for bankruptcy a few months later. That put the defunct company's insurers in charge of the case and they moved to settle almost immediately after that.

The nature of the plaintiffs' argument combined with a lack of evidence the shooter or his mother (who actually bought the gun) ever saw the advertising makes it difficult to understand the insurers' decision. I've offered up some explanation for it, but Cam had some additional insights I'd never thought of before.

He noted that the recent payouts to the Parkland and Sutherland Springs shooting victims may have played into the insurers' calculous. Those cases saw totals over the $100 million mark. Plus, a jury could be sympathetic to the victims and try to hold Remington accountable for what happened since it's difficult to find anyone else to hold responsible.

At the same time, Cam said the merits of the case seemed weak and people aren't inclined to blame a company when somebody uses their product to commit a crime. 

We also predicted how the settlement might impact the industry as a whole. Cam said insurance rates may go up and the success of the plaintiffs could inspire similar suits. However, he noted these kinds of suits have been going for decades already and the settlement did not set any kind of binding legal precedent.

Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I discuss Beto O'Rourke's latest zig-zag on gun confiscation.