The lawsuit claims that the NRA, Colt, and other entities facilitated a mass shooting that left 11 people dead, including the plaintiffs’ parents.
A man whose parents were murdered by a mass shooter in a Pittsburgh synagogue has sued the National Rifle Association (NRA), claiming the Second Amendment advocacy group’s inflammatory rhetoric inspired the attack.
The Associated Press reports that the lawsuit was filed late last week by Marc Simon, son of the late Sylvan and Bernice Simon.
Lodged with the Alleghany County Common Court of Pleas on Thursday, the lawsuit names as plaintiffs the National Rifle Association, Colt’s Manufacturing Co., and accused shooter Robert Bowers.
Colt, notes The Associated Press, manufactured the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle used by Bowers.
Another defendant, says the A.P. is the “unknown” business which sold Bowers the rifle.
Bowers is suspected of perpetrating the attack, carried out at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Eleven worshipers were killed. To date, the shooting remains the deadliest act of antisemitic violence in American history.
A law enforcement investigation revealed that Bowers—a former truck driver—expressed a strong, pressing hatred of Jewish people. Bowers allegedly made a string of antisemitic comments both during the October 2018 attack and after his arrest and detention.
Simon’s lawsuit claims that the “gun lobby,” including the National Rifle Association, contributed to the shooter’s antisemitism.
“Bowers was not born fearing and hating Jews,” the complaint states. “The gun lobby taught him to do that.”
The lawsuit builds its premise by its suggesting that the National Rifle Association has radicalized people like Bowers by giving voice to and propagating “mendacious white supremacist conspiracy theories.”
It also claims that the Colt AR-15 variant purchased and used by Bowers could have been modified by the manufacturer to prevent Bowes’ suspected use of a “bump” stock.
Bump stocks have been increasingly controversial since 2017, when a 47-year old man used bump stock-fitted semi-automatic rifles to kill and injure hundreds of people at the Route 66 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas.
Bump stocks increase a rifle’s rate of fire by harnessing recoil; when used properly, they can mimic automatic fire.
“Large-capacity magazines enable shooters to kill large numbers of people while depriving victims and law enforcement of opportunities to escape or overwhelm the shooter while reloading,” the lawsuit claims, observing that “there is no record of any Pennsylvanian ever lawfully using an AR-15 for self-defense.”
While the NRA has declined to comment on the specifics of Simon’s lawsuit, a group spokesperson told tribelive.com that it has filed for bankruptcy—and that Simon’s litigation must be stayed in the meantime.
The NRA also emphasized that it does not promote the unsafe or illegal use of firearms.
“The NRA promotes the safe, lawful use of firearms and is saddened by this horrific event,” said NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam. “We stand with those who strictly enforce our current gun laws and call for the protection of all houses of worship.”
However, Simon’s lawsuit is careful to note that the NRA’s upper-level leadership has made remarks which could be interpreted as conspirational and antisemitic.
Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s effective head, is quoted in the complaint as blaming gun control initiatives on “people like George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer,” and more.
All of the three men, notes triblive.com, are Jewish.
Simon’s lawsuit recalls that his father—an observant Jew—was an Army veteran, while his mother was a nurse.