The family of a woman killed after bullets rained down on Las Vegas concertgoers in October 2017 has filed a wrongful death suit against eight gunmakers and three dealers, alleging the rifles used in the mass shooting violate federal law and can be easily modified to fire like automatic weapons.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday names Colt and other manufacturers as well as dealers, saying the eight AR-15 assault rifles used in the shootings unleashed a barrage of 1,049 rounds of automatic fire on the crowd in less than 10 minutes. The suit said the manufacturers were not only aware the weapons could easily be modified to fire automatically but also promoted their ferocious firepower.
The shooting, which left 58 dead, hundreds injured and many more traumatized, began when the gunman smashed windows in his 32nd-floor suite at the Mandalay Bay and fired on thousands of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival across the street. Police said the gunman then fatally shot himself.
The federal suit was filed in Nevada on behalf of the family of Carolyn “Carrie” Parsons, 31, who lived outside of Seattle and was at the concert with friends when she was fatally shot behind the shoulder.
Lawrence G. Keane, a senior vice president and general counsel for the firearm trade group National Shooting Sports Foundation, said the suit was without merit. He said the lawsuit demonstrated the need for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005, which grants immunity to manufacturers.
“The responsibility for the crimes committed on that tragic night in Las Vegas (rests) with the criminal who committed the violent and reprehensible acts,” Keane said in a statement.
“It is wrong to blame the manufacturers of legal, non-defective products lawfully sold for the actions of a madman. Doing so would be like attempting to hold Ford responsible for a deranged criminal who affixes after-market parts to a Mustang and then misused that car to attack a group of pedestrians.”
CNN has sought comment from Colt’s Manufacturing Company and others named in the lawsuit.
The suit said an AR-15 modified with a “bump stock” — which makes it easier to fire rounds from a semi-automatic weapon by harnessing the gun’s recoil to “bump” the trigger faster — violates federal law because it “will continually fire rounds after a single trigger pull.” In 2018, a new federal regulation officially banned bump-fire stocks.
The complaint said there are “simple hacks” and “hundreds of videos” online of AR-15 enthusiasts modifying the gun with “no tools at all.” The suit also noted that “manufacturers chose to ignore” legislative efforts to “address the catastrophic danger posed by easily modifiable weapons.”
The lawyers for Parsons’ parents — Jim and Ann-Marie — include Josh Koskoff and Katie Mesner-Hage, who also represent the families of several victims of the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut in a case against Remington Arms Company and others.
“Someone has to stand up and tell gun companies that making a gun that can be so easily modified into a machine gun is not okay,” Ann-Marie Parsons said in a statement.
“They need to know that they will be held accountable for their profiteering and for the devastation they wreak on innocent victims and their families.”
The owner of the Mandalay Bay hotel has faced a barrage of lawsuits over the shooting. MGM Resorts International has said it bears no liability for the concert massacre. Last year, the company named more than 1,000 of the shooting victims as defendants in two lawsuits of its own. The entertainment giant is not seeking monetary damages but, citing a federal law, asks the courts to protect it from legal actions filed by the victims.
By Ray Sanchez and Melissa Alonso, CNN