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Uvalde Families Sue Meta, Call of Duty Creator Activision

Memorial at Robb Elementary School dedicated to the victims of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. | Image by Jinitzail Hernandez/Shutterstock
Memorial at Robb Elementary School dedicated to the victims of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. | Image by Jinitzail Hernandez/Shutterstock

Families of the victims of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde have embarked on legal pursuits against corporate entities, aiming for justice and accountability in the aftermath of the school shooting tragedy.

Filed by attorneys representing the affected families, the newest lawsuits target gun manufacturer Daniel Defense, social media powerhouse Meta (the parent company of Instagram and Facebook), and video game titan Activision. These legal endeavors seek to shed light on the alleged marketing tactics that may or may not have facilitated the shooter’s access to weapons and potentially desensitized him to violence, according to a report from The Texas Tribune.

The heart of the legal action revolves around accusations leveled at Daniel Defense, the producer of the semiautomatic rifle wielded by the 18-year-old shooter during the tragic incident.

The lawsuits assert that Daniel Defense deliberately targeted a youthful demographic in its marketing campaigns, a strategy the families’ attorneys argue directly contributed to the shooter’s acquisition and use of the firearm. The legal filings point to negligence and wrongful death, attributing a portion of responsibility to the company’s promotional efforts, according to The Texas Tribune.

Echoing these sentiments, the lawsuits against Meta and Activision assert that their respective platforms, particularly Instagram and the popular video game franchise Call of Duty, played a part in desensitizing the shooter to violence and glorifying the use of weapons similar to those employed in the attack. The legal documents suggest a correlation between the immersive experiences provided by these digital platforms and the shooter’s distorted perception of reality, per the Associated Press.

Activision called the Uvalde shooting “horrendous and heartbreaking in every way, and we express our deepest sympathies to the families and communities who remain impacted by this senseless act of violence. Millions of people around the world enjoy video games without turning to horrific acts,” per AP.

The lawsuits assert that the Uvalde shooter had been engaging with various iterations of the game Call of Duty since the age of 15. Among the versions of Call of Duty played by the Uvalde shooter was one purportedly offering a platform for practicing with a rifle similar to the weapon used to carry out the massacre.

Josh Koskoff, the attorney representing the families, emphasized the intertwined nature of these corporations’ marketing strategies and the tragic outcome of the shooting, telling the Tribune, “This three-headed monster knowingly exposed him to the weapon, conditioned him to see it as a tool to solve his problems and trained him to use it.”

The legal maneuverings unfold against a backdrop of continued scrutiny directed at law enforcement agencies’ response to the shooting.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, reports from the U.S. Department of Justice and investigations by the Texas House Committee have scrutinized the actions of state and local law enforcement officers during the incident.

Families of the victims have initiated legal proceedings against the Texas Department of Public Safety Officers, seeking further avenues for accountability.

Contrary to the Department of Justice’s findings showing a succession of errors in response to the shooting, findings from Jesse Prado, a private investigator hired by the City of Uvalde to probe the officers’ actions and response procedures, painted a different picture. Prado’s investigation highlighted multiple shortcomings in the police response but ultimately absolved the officers of wrongdoing, suggesting they should not be held accountable for the incident.

The families of the victims contended that the report from Prado, initiated by the City of Uvalde itself, was inaccurate and did not displace blame from the responding officers and city officials, as claimed, previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Koskoff emphasized the necessity of a comprehensive examination of the factors leading up to the shooting, stressing that accountability extends beyond law enforcement.

“There has been, appropriately, so much of a focus on law enforcement, and I think it’s appropriate to remember that they are at the end of the road,” Koskoff told the Tribune.

The new legal action comes after a recent $2 million settlement between the City of Uvalde and the victims’ families, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Furthermore, on May 22, the families of the victims filed a federal lawsuit seeking $500 million in damages, reported AP. The suit targets a wide range of individuals, including 92 officials and troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety, former Robb Elementary Principal Mandy Gutierrez, former Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Peter Arredondo, and the Uvalde CISD as a collective whole.

The Dallas Express has contacted the Uvalde Police Department for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

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