Son of mass shooting victim sues gun maker over ‘glorified’ marketing, CT lawyer says

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A son is suing the manufacturer of the gun that was used to kill his mother and nine others in a mass shooting in Colorado, according to his lawyer.

Nathaniel Getz, son of Suzanne Fountain, filed suit against Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. on March 10, nearly two years after Fountain was killed at a supermarket in Boulder, according to the lawsuit. The wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Connecticut, where Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. is headquartered.

A gunman opened fire at King Soopers on March 22, 2021, and killed 10 people using an AR-556 gun manufactured by Sturm, Ruger & Company, the complaint says. Fountain was among the victims.

The accused shooter, 23-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, had been charged with more than 100 counts in connection with the shooting, but he has been found mentally incompetent to stand trial, according to Colorado Public Radio.

In the lawsuit, Getz and his lawyers say the AR-556 was designed to “maximize casualties and engineered to deliver maximum carnage with extreme efficiency.”

The manufacturer also “glorified the lone gunman” and “promoted lone gunman assaults” in its marketing, the lawsuit says. It used phrases like, “Anything else would be unAmerican,” in its marketing materials.

Sturm, Ruger & Company did not respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News on Tuesday, March 14.

The company evaded rules aimed at regulating AR-15 style rifles by designing a variant of the AR-556 that is classified as a pistol, the lawsuit says. The company also marketed and sold stabilizing arm braces that allowed the pistol to “function as a stock-stabilized AR-15 rifle,” the lawsuit says. A stabilizing brace is a device that can be attached to a pistol to secure the weapon to a shooter’s arm and allow them to fire one-handed.

Sturm, Ruger & Company continued to market the weapon despite evidence that the firearm was being used more often in mass shootings, the lawsuit says. The complaint calls the company’s marketing “unethical,” “immoral” and “reckless.”

Andrew Garza, an attorney representing Getz, told McClatchy News in a phone interview his team is arguing Sturm, Ruger & Company violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, which prohibits “deceptive acts” by companies. The company continued to market its AR-556 pistol even though it looked and functioned like a rifle, he said.

“There are lives at stake and communities that are broken based on the choices that are made,” he said.

The Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act was also previously cited in a lawsuit against the gun manufacturer Remington on behalf of the families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Garza said. The action resulted in a $73 million settlement, according to KDVR.

Garza said the main motivation for the suit against Sturm, Ruger & Company is to prevent future mass shootings so more families don’t have to suffer the loss of a loved one.

Fountain’s family is still grappling with her death, Garza said.

“I think like everyone, they’ve tried to understand what happened, why it happened and live with the absence of someone they cared deeply about,” he said.

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $15,000.

Garza said the families of other King Soopers shooting victims are welcome to join the lawsuit and can contact his firm.

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