Sandy Hook settlement grossly misrepresented by media

(AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

A lot of us are still processing the whole thing regarding the settlement between Remington’s insurance company and the families of those killed in Sandy Hook. It’s done and in the books, of course, but the ramifications will continue for long afterward.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of people looking at the settlement and thinking it means stuff it doesn’t, writing very misleading and outright wrong opinion pieces based on nonsense that people will accept as absolute fact.

One case in point:

It’s been well established that companies that exploit gender stereotypes to prey on women’s self-doubt are harmful to society. But the lawsuit filed by families of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting against gun manufacturer Remington might help to show how men are just as vulnerable to damaging gender ideals.

The Remington settlement marks the first time a gunmaker has been held accountable for its product’s role in a mass murder in the U.S. Gun companies have been shielded from liability when their products are used in a crime because of a 2005 law called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. But some states are now using consumer protection as a way to hold gunmakers’ feet to the fire. New York passed a law last summer that classified irresponsible marketing of firearms as a “nuisance,” which could allow firearm corporate entities to be sued, and New Jersey could be the next state to follow suit.

Except it wasn’t Remington who made the settlement. It was the insurance company itself, meaning Remington hasn’t said they did anything wrong.

Which is good, because they didn’t.

See, the insurance company opted to settle because the optics of carrying on a legal battle with the families of murder victims was less than spectacular. They have other customers and clients outside of the gun industry, and likely figured they’d lose more in the long run by fighting.

But Remington wasn’t part of the decision process. No one in the firearm industry was, so it’s kind of ridiculous to claim a gun maker was held accountable when nothing of the sort actually happened.

If this were the only example, though, that would be enough. Unfortunately, it’s not.

FOR DECADES, gun industry defenders have advanced the myth that guns don’t kill people. Sure, a gun sitting in a locked case doesn’t kill anyone, but a human brandishing one or more military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines can kill far more people, far quicker than if that person didn’t have a gun at all. Guns enable people to kill people in America by margins unmatched in any other developed nation. A major lawsuit settlement Tuesday could help put a dent in those margins.

The families of adults and children slain in 2012 at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School reached a $73 million settlement with representatives of arms maker Remington, which manufactured the military-style weaponry used to kill 20 first graders and six adults. The sickest lingering effect of the killings a full decade later involves the way gun makers and the National Rifle Association persist in turning this tragedy and the parents’ suffering into a celebration of gun rights.

Which is why Tuesday’s settlement is so significant. Gun victims are finally standing up for their rights instead of leaving unchallenged the way mass-killing devices are marketed as a statement of manhood and Second Amendment preservation. Gun makers’ mission is not about the Constitution. It’s about maximizing profits. And they do it by advertising guns using macho, military imagery and associating assault rifles with patriotism and the defense of liberty.

Again, this was an insurance company that reached that settlement. That’s a very important point that none of these people are interested in considering.

See, you can make whatever argument you want about the motivations of gun manufacturers–I’ve had at least one gun company owner tell me that most of his peers aren’t that pro-gun, really–but this settlement doesn’t actually reflect anything except the insurance company’s desire to put this behind them.

Look, if you’ve ever been sued, you probably know that sometimes it’s worthwhile just to put the whole thing behind you. Legal expenses pile up and it causes a lot of stress. Sometimes, you’re just better off settling so you can move on to other things.

But it doesn’t mean you’re actually culpable and somehow know it.

As for their marketing and it supposedly being responsible, guess what? You’re not going to see a damn big of a change. Why? Because that marketing works and no one has been able to show that the Sandy Hook shooter ever saw any marketing material for any firearm, much less the gun that he stole from his mother that he murdered in cold blood.

I’m sympathetic to the family members who lost someone at Sandy Hook, but this settlement doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t prove anything. It’s a salve and little else.

Maybe that’s what they need. I don’t know.

What I do know, though, is that these supposed journalists should do a whole lot more research before opening their trap.