Shooter Connor Betts was killed by Dayton police officers less than a minute after he opened fire outside a bar–but he was able to kill nine people within 20 seconds.
Survivors of a 2019 mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, have filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of a large-capacity magazine that allowed the gunman to fire dozens of shots without reloading.
According to Reuters, the complaint was lodged over the weekend in Clark, County Nevada.
In their lawsuit, the survivors–along with deceased victims’ family members—claimed that Nevada-based Kyung Chang Industry USA Inc and its South Korea parent company Kyungchang Industry Co Ltd negligently and recklessly sold “instruments of slaughter without any reasonable safeguards, screening or limits.”
The plaintiffs, says CNN, are requesting damages as well as a court order preventing the company from continuing to sell its 100-round large capacity magazines, or LCMs.
Jonathon Lowy, an attorney representing the families, said he believes the lawsuit is the first of its kind.
“To our knowledge, this is the first lawsuit that’s focused solely on the marketing and manufacture and sale of high-capacity magazines,” Lowy said on Monday.
Lowy said that the lawsuit does not intend to curb the sale of all magazines above a certain capacity, but about Kyung Chang’s “decision to make 100-round magazines, to market them to the general public, to do so without any reasonable restrictions or conditions, to allow and even to encourage in some ways that people use internet sellers to obtain those 100-round magazines, to not screen for who would be an appropriate user of a 100-round magazine.”
The lawsuit’s claims echo assertions made by Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl shortly after the shooting.
“It is fundamentally problematic,” Biehl said shortly after the 2019 shooting. “To have that level of weaponry in a civilian environment, unregulated, is problematic.”
Reuters recounts how shooter Connor Betts opened fire in Dayton’s nightlife district on August 4th, 2019, killing nine people—including his own sister. Seventeen other people were injured by gunfire, while another ten were hurt trying to escape the area.
Betts was killed in a shootout with police.
The entire event lasted less than a minute, with Dayton Police responding within 20 seconds of the first shots fired.
But because Betts was using a semi-automatic firearm outfitted with a high-capacity magazine, he was able to fire 41 rounds into the entrance of Ned Peppers Bar in less than 30 seconds.
In their lawsuit, survivors and family members said that Kyung Chang Industries should have known that its LCMs were dangerous for non-military use, and were very likely to appeal to mass shooters and other criminals.
“Defendants knew that LCMs have been used repeatedly to slaughter and terrorize Americans in a string of horrific mass shootings,” the complaint states. “They knew that mass killers are attracted to LCMs, because they desire them for maximum killing. They knew that the online market was particularly attractive for some killers and their suppliers.”
The complaint broadly alleges that Kyung Chang violated Nevada state law by failing to put in place any system to ensure that its LCMs were only sold to and obtained by persons with legitimate uses for them.
Such safety measures, say Reuters, may include requiring prospective consumers to purchase LCMs in person, or submitting them to a background check.
LaSandra James, the mother of one of the deceased victims, said she does not want Kyung Chang’s alleged negligence to go unchecked.
“I want to make sure that the actions of all those that were responsible that day don’t go unanswered,” James said. “For my grandchildren.”