Uvalde families sue Meta, video game creator and gunmaker

Families of the victims of the Uvalde school shooting are suing the manufacturer of the gun used in the attack, the maker of a video game and Instagram parent company Meta.

In two new lawsuits, they claim the companies helped promote dangerous weapons to a generation of “socially vulnerable” young men, including the 18-year old gunman.

Nineteen children and two teachers were killed in the attack at Robb Elementary School.

The dual lawsuits – filed in Texas and California – are against Activision, the developer of the military video game series “Call of Duty”; Daniel Defense, the gun manufacturer known for its high-end rifles; and Meta.

The companies are accused of being responsible for “grooming” a generation of young people who live out violent video game fantasies in the real world, with easily accessible weapons of war.

The lawsuits contend that Meta and Activision “knowingly exposed” him to the gun he used at Uvalde and conditioned him to see it as the solution to his problems.

The lawsuits claim that Instagram, Activision and Daniel Defense have been “partnering…in a scheme that preys upon insecure, adolescent boys”, attorneys said in a news release.

“There is a direct line between the conduct of these companies and the Uvalde shooting,” the statement said.

“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.”

According to lawsuits, the gunman had been playing Call of Duty, a war-based video game with a rifle similar to the one used in the shooting, since he was 15 years old.

The lawsuit says the gunman was “simultaneously” the subject of “aggressive marketing” by Daniel Defense, which targeted the teen with ads on Instagram.

“Instagram creates a connection between …an adolescent …and the gun and a gun company,” Josh Koskoff, the plaintiffs’ attorney, told the BBC’s US media partner CBS, on Friday.

“And nobody exploited Instagram for this purpose more than Daniel Defense.”

An Activision spokesperson told CBS that the “Uvalde shooting was horrendous and heartbreaking in every way”, adding that the company expresses its “deepest sympathies” to victims and their families.

“Millions of people around the world enjoy video games without turning to horrific acts”, the spokesman said.

The BBC has reached out to Meta, Daniel Defense and Activision for comment.

Daniel Defense, which is facing other lawsuits filed by some victims’ families, said in a 2022 statement that such litigation was “frivolous” and “politically motivated”.

On Wednesday, families of the victims reached a $2m (£1.5m) settlement with the city of Uvalde.

More than 370 officers from various local, state and federal departments were at Robb Elementary during the attack.

It took police more than an hour to stop the gunman, who was barricaded inside adjoining classrooms.

Additionally, the families announced that they will be taking new legal action against 92 individual officers from the state’s Department of Public Safety for “shocking and extensive failures” during the shooting response.

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