Uvalde Families Sue Meta and ‘Call of Duty’ Publisher Over Alleged Links to Gun Violence

The families of the Uvalde school shooting victims have filed lawsuits against Meta and Activision Blizzard, claiming these companies contributed to the tragedy by “grooming” the teenage shooter. The wrongful death complaints allege that these companies helped gun manufacturers market their weapons to young, impressionable audiences.

Allegations Against Meta and Activision Blizzard

Filed on the two-year anniversary of the shooting, the lawsuits claim that Georgia-based gun manufacturer Daniel Defense used Instagram, a Meta-owned platform, and Activision Blizzard’s popular “Call of Duty” game to market the weapon used by 18-year-old Salvador Ramos. Ramos killed 19 children and two teachers and injured several others at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in 2022.

Marketing to Minors

The complaints argue that Meta and Activision have fostered a culture that turns alienated teenage boys into mass shooters. They assert that Instagram’s lack of oversight allows gun manufacturers to communicate directly with minors. Although Meta does not allow direct gun ads, it permits gun manufacturers to create and post content on Facebook and Instagram.

A Broader Scheme

According to the lawsuits, over the past 15 years, Meta and Activision have collaborated with the firearms industry in a marketing scheme more harmful than the notorious Joe Camel campaign. By providing constant, direct access to teenagers through their platforms, they have allegedly helped firearm manufacturers expand their market.

Impact of “Call of Duty”

The legal actions also claim that “Call of Duty” has created an addictive channel for violence among teenage boys, training them to use weapons in real life. Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard in 2022 for $75 billion.

Separate Lawsuit Against Daniel Defense

Besides the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, the families’ lawyers have filed a separate lawsuit in Uvalde County District Court against Daniel Defense, the manufacturer of the AR-15 used by Ramos.

Responses from Defendants

Activision Blizzard expressed their condolences to the affected families, distancing themselves from any violent behavior. “The Uvalde shooting was 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,” said an Activision spokesperson. Meta and Daniel Defense did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Legal Precedents and Challenges

The families are represented by Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, the law firm that secured a $73 million settlement from gun manufacturer Remington after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Despite federal immunity that typically protects firearm manufacturers from civil litigation, the Connecticut Supreme Court allowed the Sandy Hook case to proceed, citing potential violations of state consumer protection laws.

Examination of Section 230

The California portion of the lawsuit may challenge Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 1998 provision that shields online platforms from liability for user-generated content if they take reasonable steps to remove harmful content.

Last year, the Supreme Court upheld Section 230 in two related cases, maintaining the provision’s protections.

These lawsuits aim to hold Meta and Activision Blizzard accountable for their alleged roles in marketing firearms to minors, which the families argue contributed to the tragic events in Uvalde. The outcomes of these cases could significantly impact how online platforms and video game developers are regulated concerning gun violence.

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