Josh Koskoff, a Connecticut lawyer, was scanning crime scene photos of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting when he noticed “taped mags” on a classroom floor, two ammunition magazines crudely duct-taped together to speed reloading. The gunman had dropped them during his rampage that killed 20 first graders and six educators in Newtown, Ct. That photo was a “checkmate moment,” Koskoff said, in the novel legal strategy that resulted in the $73 million settlement for the families of nine Sandy Hook victims from insurers for Remington, the maker of the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used in the massacre. It was the largest payout in a mass-shooting case against a gun manufacturer, says the New York Times.
The settlement was the latest in a half-dozen legal victories by the families that have renewed scrutiny of the gun industry and of the tide of misinformation that engulfed Sandy Hook. Left devastated nine years ago when the Senate failed to pass modest gun control legislation, the families have won on two difficult fronts — against a gun manufacturer and against conspiracy theorists, including Alex Jones — through persistence, creative legal strategies and in the case of the conspiracists, the technological expertise of Lenny Pozner, a parent who foresaw the long-term danger of rampant social media falsehoods. “We started to talk about ‘There has to be a way to get something done,’” said David Wheeler, whose 6-year-old son, Ben, died at Sandy Hook, recalling their failure to get gun control passed by the Senate. He now senses that for the first time, “a lot of people believe we’ve changed things.”