An employee unboxes a Ruger AR-556 rifle at the RTSP Shooting Range in Randolph, New Jersey on Dec. 9, 2015. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)

On March 22, 2021, a gunman murdered 10 people at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colorado. One of the victims was Suzanne Fountain, and now her son, Nathaniel Getz, is suing gun manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Co. over how it marketed the firearm used in the massacre. Getz’s lawsuit, filed in Connecticut, where Sturm, Ruger & Co. is based, alleges that the gun maker marketed the AR-556 pistol in a “reckless” and “immoral” way that promoted its killing capability and contributed to the shooting.

Getz’s attorney, Andrew Garza, said that the lawsuit seeks justice for the victim’s family and aims to hold the company accountable for its actions. The lawsuit also aims to serve a preventative function to protect future victims by challenging gun manufacturers to market their products responsibly. Garza argues that Sturm, Ruger & Co. marketed the AR-556 pistol in a way that glorified lone shooters and appealed to the militarization of young individuals, and that the company had a moral responsibility to do better in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.

The lawsuit was filed just days before the two-year anniversary of the shooting and the expiration of the two-year statute of limitations in Connecticut. It seeks an undisclosed amount of damages from the gun manufacturer.

The Colorado shooter, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 47 counts of attempted first-degree murder for opening fire on the grocery store and killing customers, store workers, and a police officer who attempted to intervene in the attack. Alissa, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, has been ruled incompetent to stand trial and is currently hospitalized in the state’s mental health hospital in Pueblo.

At a hearing on January 27, doctors said that Alissa may one day be able to stand trial with further treatment. His next scheduled hearing is on April 28.

The lawsuit filed by Nathaniel Getz follows the playbook established by families of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, who have also sued gun manufacturers for their role in promoting and selling firearms that have been used in mass shootings. The lawsuits argue that gun manufacturers have a duty to market their products responsibly and to take steps to prevent their products from falling into the wrong hands. They also argue that gun manufacturers should be held accountable for the harm caused by their products.

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