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Call of Duty Publisher Activision and Meta Sued by Families of Uvalde Shooting Victims

Call of Duty publisher Activision and Facebook and Instagram owner Meta are being sued in a new suit filed today by several families of victims of the 2022 Uvalde elementary school shooting, The New York Times reports today.

The lawsuit, filed in California, comes alongside an additional suit filed in Texas targeting the manufacturer of the gunman's AR-15-style rifle, Daniel Defense. Both suits arrive on the two-year anniversary of the shooting, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed at Robb Elementary School. The documents claim that Activision, Meta, and Daniel Defense each took part in "grooming" the gunman to be a mass shooter.

Activision and Meta are being sued, essentially, for the roles the documents allege they played in promoting the gun used in the shooting to 18-year-old Salvador Ramos. The Uvalde families are being represented by lawyer Josh Koskoff, best known for reaching a $73 million settlement with the maker of another AR-15-style rifle that was used in the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting.

“Daniel Defense is a predator but can’t get to the prey without the help of these other third parties,” Koskoff says.

Ramos allegedly bought the gun a week before the shooting, just 23 minutes after his 18th birthday, the suit alleges. Koskoff argues that this came months after he started playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare which, according to the lawyer's account, began a spiral of the teenager becoming obsessed with guns. The gun that Ramos did end up purchasing, a DDM4 V7, was featured on Modern Warfare's opening title page, the lawsuit says.

“Within a week of downloading Modern Warfare on Nov. 5, 2021, the shooter’s phone indicates a growing obsession with weapons and accessories associated with the game," Koskoff says, according to the NYT.

The suit goes onto allege that, by December 2021, Ramos was looking into Daniel Defense, reasearching what models he might use, and making several Instagram posts about weapons. In the process, Koskoff claims, the teenager was "targeted and cultivated online by Instagram, Activision and Daniel Defense."

"This three-headed monster knowingly exposed him to the weapon, conditioned him to see it as a tool to solve his problems and trained him to use it," Koskoff says.

“Daniel Defense is a predator but can’t get to the prey without the help of these other third parties.

In an interview with CBS News, Koskoff added that Instagram created a "connection" between the gunman and the gun manufacturer.

"And nobody exploited Instagram for this purpose more than Daniel Defense," he said. "If Instagram can prevent people from posting pictures of their private parts, they can prevent people from posting pictures of an AR-15. And of course, Instagram doesn't care. They don't care. All they care about is driving traffic and generating attention, drawing attention and getting their ad revenue."

Meta and Daniel Defense did not immediately respond to IGN's request for comment. When reached by IGN, Activision issued the following statement:

The Uvalde shooting was horrendous and heartbreaking in every way, and we express our deepest sympathies to the families and communities who remain impacted by this senseless act of violence. Millions of people around the world enjoy video games without turning to horrific acts.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has also issued the following statement, more broadly addressing violence in video games:

We are saddened and outraged by senseless acts of violence. At the same time, we discourage baseless accusations linking these tragedies to video gameplay, which detract from efforts to focus on the root issues in question and safeguard against future tragedies. Many other countries have similar rates of video gameplay to the United States, yet do not see similar rates of gun violence.

The new lawsuits come just days after the same 19 Uvalde families reached a $2 million settlement with the Texas city, in which they were also represented by Koskoff. They also announced a number of new lawsuits against the Texas Department of Public Safety officers and Uvalde's school district, including one $500 million suit against nearly 100 state police officers.

Thumbnail credit: Wu Xiaoling/Xinhua via Getty Images

Alex Stedman is a Senior News Editor with IGN, overseeing entertainment reporting. When she's not writing or editing, you can find her reading fantasy novels or playing Dungeons & Dragons.

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