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Uvalde victims’ families seek to hold gunmaker accountable, accuse it of marketing to youth

By ANDREA LUCIA

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    UVALDE, Texas (KTVT) — Everywhere you go in Uvalde, you’ll find the signs of heartbreak.

There are murals on downtown buildings, memorials in the plaza, and signs outside local businesses offering community support for the victims’ families.

One year after the school shooting that killed 21 people, though, victims’ families say little has changed to stop it from happening again.

“You can’t get away from it. It’s happening everywhere,” said Christina Zamora.

Her daughter, Mayah, was critically injured in her classroom at Robb Elementary, surviving gunshots to the chest, arm, and hands. The family still lives in San Antonio today near the hospital where Mayah’s treatment continues.

“The Second Amendment means a lot to me,” said her father, Ruben Zamora. “But, we need to change something. You know, these guns – these kids – are killing kids.”

The Zamoras have joined two other victims’ families to file suit against more than a dozen different defendants in an effort, they say, to get answers.

Their toughest target, though, is the gun industry.

“Daniel Defense,” explains their attorney Antonio Romanucci. “They are the manufacturer of the assault style weapon the the killer had on May 24th of 2022.”

Romanucci has taken on high profile battles on behalf of the families of George Floyd and Tyre Nichols is now taking up the Zamoras’ case, as well.

“We’re just trying to find accountability in what happened,” said Christina.

The challenge? A 2005 law known as PLCAA, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which protects gunmakers from liability for shootings.

Attorneys for the families of the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary, though, found on possible catch that garnered them a $72 million settlement against Remington.

Now, Romanucci is adopting the same strategy.

“By looking at how they market these weapons to young adults,” he said. “When you market these guns to people who are 18 and younger, that’s a violation of the law.”

His lawsuit includes examples of Daniel Defense’s social media posts it says are geared to children.

It points to a Halloween message asking “What did you dress as?”

Another shows Santa Claus smoking a cigar and posing with the company’s AR-15.

Daniel Defense also uses product placement in the video game, Call of Duty, which the lawsuit says “is popular among teenagers and young adults, including the Uvalde, Parkland, and El Paso mass shooters.”

In Uvalde, a state report says the killer spent over $2,000 on Daniel Defense’s AR-15, despite likely never having fired a gun other than in the video game.

“It absolutely grooms them to want to own these guns because it empowers them. They feel empowered. It attracts a particular person,” said Romanucci.

In a court filing, Daniel Defense argues PLCAA’s immunity extends to its marketing, too. Romanucci hopes to prove otherwise and force the company to pay enough money to make gunmakers think twice about how they advertise.

Whether you know it or not, the Zamoras say, it’s a case that could one day affect you.

“This threat, in particular, with assault rifles and stuff like that… that is something that I feel that I never thought would be a problem.

Other people were handling stuff like that. Government had that handled. Law enforcement knows what to do,” said Christina. “I had 100% confidence it as something being taken care of.”

Daniel Defense and its attorneys have not responded to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

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