In February 2022, the families of nine Newtown shooting victims settled a lawsuit for $73 million against Remington and its subsidiary Bushmaster, the company that made the AR-15 used in the 2012 attack. The lawsuit focused on Remington’s marketing practices, including a Bushmaster ad published in Maxim magazine featuring an AR-15 with the caption, “Consider your man card reissued.”
Remington later declared bankruptcy, leaving its insurers to negotiate the settlement, which included a stipulation that all of the materials uncovered during the discovery process be made public. Those materials have not yet been published, but a recent New York Times article profiling attorney Josh Koskoff, who brought the lawsuit against Remington, offers significant new details about the gun manufacturer’s decisions in the wake of the Newtown shooting.
The report highlights the November 2021 deposition of George Kollitides II, who served as the chairman and CEO of the Freedom Group, which owned Remington and Bushmaster, from 2012 to 2015 before it was renamed the Remington Outdoor Company. At one point during the deposition, Koskoff asked Kollitides, “If there was a shooting every single day using a Bushmaster AR-15-type rifle that was manufactured and sold by Freedom Group, would it still be full steam ahead for you, or at some point would you say, you know, maybe we don’t need to market and sell these things?”
Kollitides replied, “It would be full steam ahead.”
Koskoff also asked Kollitides, “Is it your testimony that in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting while you were CEO, your approach to business in this space didn’t change at all, that it was the same after the shooting as it was before?”
Kollitides replied, “100 percent.”
The New York Times report then discusses the minutes of a Freedom Group board meeting held on December 20, 2012, six days after the Newtown shooting. According to the minutes, Kollitides “noted that year-end sales continued to be strong in the wake of the tragedy.” The company also “hired crisis advisers” to “assist in managing the public relations and various other issues” the company faced as a result of the shooting.
The board then moved on to discuss the acquisition of a Montana-based gun barrel manufacturer, which a Remington executive noted would “greatly enhance the company’s capacity in the high-margin MSR market.” MSR stands for “modern sporting rifle,” a term coined by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the gun industry’s trade association, to describe assault weapons such as AR-15s.
More materials have yet to be released, but Koskoff says that they “will provide a depth of understanding as to what goes on behind closed doors with the gun industry.”