Marc Simon, the son of Sylvan and Bernice Simon, both of whom were killed in the 2018 Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh that killed eleven people and wounded six others, has sued firearms manufacturer Colt and the National Rifle Association (NRA) for their roles in radicalizing Robert Bowers, the indicted shooter.
The novel 47-page complaint, filed in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, alleges that the gun lobby radicalizes people with “mendacious white supremacist conspiracy theories” in order to make increased profits. The complaint, signed by attorney Robert A. Bracken of Bracken Lamberton LLC, argued that the AR-15 rifle is practically a machine gun and that Colt could have designed the gun to accept less lethal rounds, prevent bump firing, and only use fixed-capacity magazines.
The AR-15 style assault rifle has gained notoriety due to its usage in mass shootings, with assault rifles causing 39% of the deaths and 92% of the injuries in mass shootings since 2017.
The complaint also lists the NRA as a defendant. According to the lawsuit, the NRA promotes “stochastic terrorism,” where an organization fosters an “us-versus-them” mentality in online echo chambers by promoting conspiracy theories to the point that an act of violence becomes statistically probable.
The complaint alleges that speeches made by Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, are filled with rhetoric designed to incite conspiratorial feelings and vilify Jewish American billionaires. A quote by Mr. LaPierre is highlighted in the complaint:
If … these so-called new European socialists take over the House, and the Senate, and god forbid they get the White House again, our American freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever. And the first to go will be the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. […] It is all backed in this country by the social engineering and the billions of people like George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer and more.
In a statement, Andrew Arulanandam, part of the NRA’s public affairs division said, “[t]he NRA promotes the safe, lawful use of firearms and is saddened by this horrific event.”
Since the NRA filed for bankruptcy last week, this lawsuit against the NRA is automatically on stay, but the lawsuit will proceed against Colt.
Bowers is still awaiting trial, with prosecutors seeking the death penalty.