Uvalde families sue Meta, video game creator and weapons manufacturer

  • Author, Brandon Drenon
  • Role, bbc news
  • Reporting from Washington D.C.

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’s parent company, Meta.

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

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

Friday marked the second anniversary of the Texas school shooting.

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

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 gunman, Salvador Ramos, used an AR-15 style rifle in the attack.

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

The lawsuits claim that Instagram, Activision and Daniel Defense have “partnered… in a scheme that preys on insecure teenagers,” the attorneys said in a press 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 the lawsuits, the gunman had been playing Call of Duty, a war 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… a teenager… and guns and a gun company,” Josh Koskoff, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, told the BBC’s US media partner CBS on Friday.

“And no one 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 extends its “deepest condolences” to the victims and their families.

“Millions of people around the world enjoy video games without resorting to horrible acts,” the spokesperson said.

The BBC has contacted Meta, Daniel Defense and Activision for comment.

Daniel Defense, which faces other lawsuits brought by the families of some victims, said in a 2022 statement that such litigation was “frivolous” and “politically motivated.”

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

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

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

Additionally, the families announced they will take new legal action against 92 individual state Department of Public Safety officers for “shocking and extensive failures” during the response to the shooting.

With files from Peter Bowes