Attorneys representing the father of a 10-year-old student killed in the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that left 21 people dead filed a letter Friday that demands answers from Daniel Defense, the maker of the rifle used in the shooting, regarding the company’s controversial marketing techniques and any communication it had with the gunman.
Lawyers for Alfred Garza, the father of Amerie Jo Garza, filed a petition asking for Daniel Defense to preserve evidence including marketing plans of its AR-15 assault rifles, marketing plans of its products to teens and children, online purchase systems, social media campaigns, advertising and “your incitement and encouragement of the assaultive use of these weapons.”
Alfred Garza is represented by Texas-based lawyers Mikal Watts and Charla Aldous, and Connecticut-based attorney Josh Koskoff, who previously sued gun manufacturer Remington, maker of the weapon used in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, obtaining a $73 million settlement for nine families of the victims.
Emilia Marin, a speech pathology clerk at Robb Elementary School, filed a similar petition Thursday asking the court to force Daniel Defense officials to sit for a deposition and to produce materials.
Salvador Ramos, the gunman in the Uvalde shooting, legally purchased two assault-style rifles days after his 18th birthday, but only brought a Daniel Defense DDM V7 rifle into the school.
Daniel Defense made its Twitter account private shortly after the shooting, and deleted its most recent post, which depicted a young boy holding a Daniel Defense firearm with the caption, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” a reference to a Bible proverb, followed by a prayer emoji.
Daniel Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes, but a statement posted on its website reads the company is saddened by the tragic events in Texas and that “our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and community devastated by this evil act.”
What To Watch For
The letter is likely a precursor to a lawsuit that could seek to hold Daniel Defense liable for the shooting, but the company could be shielded from liability due to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. The act, passed in 2005 following extensive lobbying from the National Rifle Association, protects firearms manufacturers from being held liable when their products are used in criminal acts. President Joe Biden called for the act to be repealed in a speech Thursday, and urged Congress to pass a ban on assault rifles.
“My purpose for being now is to honor Amerie Jo’s memory,” Garza said in a statement. “She would want to me to do everything I can so this will never happen again to any other child. I have to fight her fight.”
Daniel Defense is one of the nation’s largest privately held gun manufacturers, and CEO Marty Daniel told Forbes in 2017 consumer sales accounted for 90% of its total sales. Daniel told Forbes in 2017 sales surged after the Sandy Hook shooting, noting the company doesn’t “use those kinds of terrible things to drive sales,” but when “people see politicians start talking about gun control,” they become fearful and “go out and buy guns.” Daniel Defense pulled out of the NRA convention last weekend—scheduled to begin days after the Uvalde shooting—because it was too soon after the shooting where one of its products was “criminally misused.” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also canceled his in-person appearance, but former President Donald Trump gave his scheduled speech.