(RepublicanJournal.org) – Survivors of a May 2022 mass shooting are suing social media companies and gun stores. Sixteen people want damages from websites they blame for radicalizing the murderer, causing them more trauma. They also want compensation from retailers that sold the killer his equipment.
Aftermath of a Massacre
On May 14, 2022, 18-year-old Payton S Gendron burst into a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and shot 13 people, 10 of them fatally. All the victims were black, and Gendron — who live-streamed the attack on Twitch until the murderous broadcast was shut down — had written a manifesto filled with white supremacist rhetoric. In response to the atrocity, New York banned sales of semi-automatic rifles to under-21s and also prohibited sales of body armor to most civilians.
On November 28, 2022, Gendron was sentenced to life in prison with no parole and still faces federal charges. However, that isn’t enough for some of those who witnessed the attack. Now 16 of them, backed by pressure group Everytown for Gun Safety, have filed a complaint in a New York state court. The lawsuit targets social media platforms Reddit and YouTube, as well as retailers Mean Arms, Vintage Firearms, and RMA Armament, where Gendron bought the equipment he used during his rampage. Gendron’s parents are also defendants.
According to the complaint, Gendron was allegedly radicalized into violent white supremacist ideology through the social media sites and then used information he found on them to help plan his attack. The plaintiffs hold the sites themselves, as well as parent companies Google and Alphabet, responsible for not removing extremist content.
The complaint also claims the retailers who sold Gendron the body armor that stopped a security guard’s bullet during the attack, and other equipment he used, were negligent in selling him the items he legally purchased from them.
Plaintiffs Escaped Uninjured
The same defendants are already being sued by the three injured survivors of Gendron’s attack, but what sets this new lawsuit apart is that none of the plaintiffs suffered any injury. They’re surviving store staff and customers and claim they’ve been left with severe trauma and various other symptoms.
A former employee says she’s unable to return to either of her two previous jobs because she suffers panic attacks. Another survivor claims she feels “guilt and anger” at surviving the massacre because she’s white; meanwhile, another says she’s now uncomfortable in the presence of white people. There’s no doubt surviving an appalling crime like this is a traumatizing experience — but is this lawsuit stretching the concept of liability too far? That’s what a Buffalo court will now have to decide.
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