Lawsuit Filed Against Gun Companies After Buffalo Shooting

Individuals who managed to survive a mass shooting that occurred in May 2022 are initiating legal action against social media platforms and firearm vendors. A group of sixteen survivors is seeking reparations from online platforms, which they hold responsible for influencing the perpetrator’s radicalization, thereby exacerbating the emotional distress they experienced. Additionally, they are pursuing compensation from the establishments that provided the assailant with the necessary tools for carrying out the attack.

In Buffalo, New York, on May 14, 2022, an 18-year-old named Payton S Gendron entered a supermarket and opened fire, injuring 13 individuals, tragically claiming the lives of 10 among them. All the victims were of African descent. Gendron, who used Twitch to live-stream the horrifying incident until it was halted, had composed a document containing white supremacist ideology. 

In the wake of this heinous act, New York responded by implementing regulations that forbid the sale of semi-automatic rifles to those under the age of 21 and restricted the sale of body armor to the majority of civilians.

Gendron received a life imprisonment verdict on November 28, 2022, devoid of any possibility of parole, while additional federal charges against him are still pending. Nevertheless, for certain witnesses of the attack, this punishment falls short. Presently, a group of 16 survivors, supported by the advocacy organization Everytown for Gun Safety, have lodged a formal complaint in a New York state court. 

The legal action is directed at various entities, including social media platforms Reddit and YouTube, along with retailers Mean Arms, Vintage Firearms, and RMA Armament—where Gendron acquired the tools utilized during the violent incident. In addition to these entities, Gendron’s parents are also listed as defendants in the case.

As outlined in the legal filing, it is contended that Gendron was purportedly indoctrinated into a violent white supremacist ideology through the social media platforms. Subsequently, he supposedly utilized information he encountered on these platforms to aid in devising his assault plan. The plaintiffs attribute culpability not only to the websites themselves but also to the parent companies Google and Alphabet, arguing that they should have taken measures to remove extremist content.

Furthermore, the complaint asserts that the retailers who supplied Gendron with the body armor that deflected a security guard’s bullet during the attack, as well as other equipment he utilized, acted negligently by selling him items that he legally acquired from them.

The group of defendants currently faces legal action from the three survivors who sustained injuries in Gendron’s attack. However, what distinguishes this fresh lawsuit is that none of the plaintiffs involved experienced any physical harm. Instead, they are individuals who were present among the store staff and customers that survived the incident. Their assertion is that they have been grappling with significant psychological distress and various related symptoms.

A previous staff member asserts her incapability to resume either of her two prior positions due to recurring panic episodes. Another individual who survived the incident states she experiences a mix of “guilt and anger” stemming from her survival, given her ethnicity. Meanwhile, another survivor expresses unease when around individuals of Caucasian descent.




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