March 2019 - Mass Shooting News

Anderson Cooper on speaking the

When 60 Minutes correspondent and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper reports on tragedy, he does not approach it as just another story he’s covering. His method has been informed by personal experience: both years of interacting with victims’ families, and his own loss—that of his brother, who died by suicide at the age of 23.    

In short, he speaks what he calls the “language of loss.”

Sandy and Lonnie Phillips are fluent in that language; their daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was murdered in the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. As Cooper reports this week on 60 Minutes, the Phillips have now devoted themselves to helping other people who are going through similar trauma. They quit their jobs, shed most of their belongings, and rented out their house so they can travel around the country to the scene of mass shootings. They meet victims and families and, while offering a kind of survival guide to grief, also build a network of survivors.

Sandy and Lonnie Phillips

Reporting on her parents wasn’t the first time Cooper met Jessica Ghawi’s family. While he was covering the Aurora massacre, he interviewed her brother, Jordan Ghawi.

“He said some things to me that really forever changed the way I thought about mass shootings and covered mass shootings,” Cooper told 60 Minutes Overtime’s Ann Silvio in the video above.

While speaking on live television, Ghawi told Cooper not to reference the name of the shooter who killed his sister, not to show his photo. He said he could still rattle off the name of other mass shooters and didn’t want it to happen in Aurora.

“I want the victims to be remembered, rather than this coward,” Ghawi said.

The notion stayed with Cooper. Today, when he covers mass shootings on his CNN program Anderson Cooper 360°, he refuses to say the name or show the photo of the gunman. He tells correspondents who appear on his show to do the same.

“It’s completely unnecessary,” he said.  

Jessica Ghawi was killed in the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Co.

Cooper said he is also conscious of being respectful when reporting from the scene in the aftermath of a shooting. As he speaks on television, he is aware that a family who just lost a loved one may be watching.

He feels this way, in part, because he remembers what it was like to be on the other side of the camera.

When Cooper was 21, his older brother Carter died by suicide. Cooper remembers people camped outside his home for days, trying to get photos. As he and his mother attended his brother’s wake, they walked into the side door of the funeral home to cameras trained on them, waiting to capture their grief.

“I’ve never forgotten that feeling, and I’d never really want to find myself on the other side of a camera doing that to somebody else,” Cooper said. “If I don’t get the picture, if I don’t get the story, that’s fine. I’d rather be able to go to sleep that night and think, ‘I respected their privacy.'”

Anderson Cooper said losing his brother to suicide helps him speak the “language of loss”

When people going through grief feel ready to talk to him, Cooper said he speaks their language of loss. He doesn’t feel uncomfortable if they cry, get angry, or sit silently. He remembers that, after his brother died, his mother told him the two of them were alone in a lifeboat. But in time, people who understood grief, who had experienced a similar tragedy, were able to get in the lifeboat with them.

That’s what the Phillipses are trying to do, Cooper said—speak the language of loss in order to understand a family’s perspective. They know that when a parent loses a child, they wonder how to live through the next 30 seconds, the next few minutes, the next night.  

And they know that grief doesn’t end.

“I think we like to think it goes away and you get over it and you move on, you go back to work and everything’s fine,” Cooper said. “But it’s good to have other people out there who know that’s not how it happens and who are comfortable communicating with you in this new language, this language of loss.”

To watch Anderson Cooper’s 60 Minutes report on Sandy and Lonnie Phillips’ work with their survivors’ network, click here.

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Pitts: After suicides, I take issue with O’Reilly saying mass murder ‘is the price of freedom’

By Leonard Pitts Jr.
Miami Herald

“This is the price of freedom.” — Bill O’Reilly on the Las Vegas massacre

“Freedom to be afraid is all you won.” — Gil Scott-Heron from “Gun”

Originally, this was going to be a column about Sydney Aiello. She was 19 years old, a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, and she was buried Friday after committing suicide. Her parents said she lost friends in last year’s shooting at her school. They said she carried survivor’s guilt and had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Then the column about Sydney became a column about Sydney and a boy, his identity not yet released, who died of an apparent suicide the day after her funeral. He was a sophomore at her old school.

Then the column changed yet again. Jeremy Richman, the father of 6-year-old Avielle Richman, who was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, was found dead of an apparent suicide on Monday. It seems reasonable to suspect, though at this point not possible to know, that proximity to tragedy played a role in the deaths of the man and boy, as it evidently did with Sydney.

So this is a column about the three of them. And the 328 million of us. And the singularly grotesque thing Bill O’Reilly said two years ago after 58 people died and over 500 were wounded in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, a thing that has hovered like smoke over every mass shooting since.

“This is the price of freedom,” he said.

Which is, of course, ridiculous. Canada is free. Australia, Spain and Finland are free. As the nation that gave us the Magna Carta, England might fairly be said to have invented freedom.

None of them has anywhere near the level of gun violence America does.

But it is not the inaccuracy of O’Reilly’s statement that gives it such grim resonance in the wake of this triple suicide. It is, rather, the substance, that idea of paying a price for so-called “gun rights.”

We think of that price in terms of fallen bodies, blood shining on asphalt. Truth is, that’s only the beginning.

Long after the bodies have been recovered and the asphalt scrubbed, after the media fold their tents and the nation turns its restless attention elsewhere, there are people left learning to walk again, or talk again. And there are families with holes shot through them, hearts that grieve behind sunny smiles, invisible wounds bleeding. Because each bullet that finds flesh injures not just its victim, but everyone around her until eventually, the whole country is walking blood stained and wounded.

We have second-graders with PTSD. We have preschoolers practicing active-shooter drills. In South Carolina, a 7-year-old survivor takes to pulling out her eyelashes and clawing her own skin. In Arizona, a 4-year-old cries “active shooter” as fireworks burst overhead. In Florida and Connecticut, three people are dead by their own hands. This is our new American normal.

And for what?

“This is the price of freedom,” O’Reilly said, trying to imbue mass murder with a sheen of patriotic sacrifice. His absurd words reflect a nation that resolutely refuses to do anything but think and pray about an ongoing national disaster. We regard gun violence like earthquakes and windstorms, acts of God we cannot prevent, but only learn to live with.

But gun violence is no act of God. And we can’t live with it. That’s the whole point.

“The price of freedom,” he says. Well, that price keeps going higher.

And whatever we’re buying, freedom isn’t it.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a Miami Herald columnist. © 2019, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

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Columbine students campaign to spread photos of mass-shooting victims as discussion of gun-violence physiology grows

There’s been a national push in recent years to erase the names of gunmen who commit mass shootings from the public sphere. But now a group of Columbine High School students are leading an effort to spread photos of their horrific acts to influence the conversation around gun control.

The #MyLastShot campaign, launched this week, asks school students to sign a pledge asking that if they are ever killed in a mass shooting, the graphic photo of their death be shared across social media.

“We hope to spark conversation around the truly horrific realities around gun violence,” said Kaylee Tyner, a 17-year-old senior at Columbine. “This project is a pretty controversial one, but that’s because it truly makes people uncomfortable with the realities of gun violence. And that’s our goal. Gun violence in this country has been very normalized and people have become very comfortable with it.”

Here’s how it works: Students can log onto the campaign’s website and either order or print out a small sticker that says “In the event that I die from gun violence please publicize the photo of my death.” The idea is that the request would be tacked onto an ID or some other personal item after the student has a conversation with his or her parents, or someone else close to them, about their intentions.

“We hope that it never gets to that point,” said Tyner, who has been active in other Colorado gun-control efforts. “We don’t want the images to ever have to be used.”

Kaylee Tyner, a senior at Columbine High School in Littleton, speaks at a news conference where Colorado state lawmakers announced House Bill 1177, the so-called red flag gun measure. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

The idea isn’t necessarily for the images to be shared by the media, Tyner said, which is where the campaign has a big split from the “no notoriety” effort to halt reporters from repeating assailants’ names. Her thought is they would be circulated on social media.

The students’ campaign comes as more and more attention is being thrust upon the physiological impacts of gun violence in America.

After recent mass shootings in Texas, at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, and in Parkland, Florida, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, doctors began speaking to reporters about the impacts the weapons used in those attacks had on victims’ bodies.

“As a doctor, I feel I have a duty to inform the public of what I have learned as I have observed these wounds and cared for these patients,” Dr. Heather Sher, a radiologist in one of the busiest trauma centers in the nation, wrote in The Atlantic after treating victims in the Florida shooting. The gunman used an assault-style rifle, which she said caused injuries more severe than she had ever seen.

Dr. Lillian Liao, a surgeon at the University Hospital and UT Health San Antonio in Texas, recounted to Vice News about receiving victims from the Sutherland Springs shooting last year, which left 27 dead. She showed graphic X-rays of bullets’ impact on children’s bodies.

“We call it gaping holes,” she told the show.

Colorado Rep. Tom Sullivan, a Centennial Democrat whose son, Alex, was killed in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, has been on a similar mission. He told Denver7 he has showed people crime scene photos from the massacre to help them better understand gun violence.

The students’ campaign has won backing from state Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Denver Democrat, who voiced support for their efforts in a recent speech at the Colorado Capitol.

Tyner said she worked on the project, in part, with students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where last year 17 students and teachers were killed in a mass shooting. In the push by those students for more gun control last year, they came to Colorado and visited Columbine High School in Littleton.

“I’ve had some of my friends from Parkland help,” Tyner said.

The entire project — from the website to the promotional materials — was developed by students, she said. It’s been about a year in the making.

The 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre that left 12 students, a teacher and the two gunmen dead, is April 20.

This reporting is made possible by our members. You can directly support independent watchdog journalism in Colorado for as little as $5 a month. Start here:

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Dealing with trauma after a mass shooting – over the long term

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Fresh waves of grief have hit the communities of Parkland, Fla., and Newtown, Conn., after recent news of more deaths.

On Monday, the father of a girl who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting died by apparent suicide, and last week, two students who survived the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting took their own lives.

It’s impossible to know the exact reason these people decided to take their lives, but their heartbreaking deaths have sparked conversation about how to support people after unthinkable tragedies, especially over the long term.

It took Sherrie Lawson a long time to stop having daily panic attacks.

Lawson, now 45, was inside the Washington Navy Yard when a gunman shot 12 people dead and injured three others on Sept. 16, 2013. She escaped by scaling an 8-foot brick wall. She knew three of the victims personally.

“In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, I was in shock. I was confused,” she told NPR’s Scott Simon. “It took a lot of time to process what was going on. But after about a month or so, my symptoms actually became worse.”

She wasn’t sleeping. She was having nightmares almost daily, as well as panic attacks. It was hard for her to focus. On normal visits to the grocery store, Lawson found herself constantly scanning her surroundings for possible danger and checking for escape exits.

“Going into grocery stores was really difficult for me because I couldn’t see over the rows of food,” she said.

This reminded her of building 197, where the Washington Navy Yard shooting took place, because building 197 was a cube farm.

“It was just rows and rows of cubes and it was a maze,” she said.

The similarities were enough to trigger panic attacks for Lawson. She said she’s had panic attacks the in the middle of the grocery store and in comparable environments like Target.

“After probably the third month of experiencing this, I realized that I was not OK and that I needed some help. So I did seek out a doctor,” she said.

Once she got professional medical help, Lawson was officially diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder and severe anxiety. She also struggled with suicidal thoughts.

“I felt like this was gonna be my life forever,” she said. “I didn’t see it getting better and I just I didn’t want to live like that.”

Because of the level of stress she was experiencing, Lawson started to experience heart issues. About one year after the shooting, she suffered a mini-stroke because her right carotid artery burst spontaneously and she was hospitalized. The burst artery was attributed to her high stress levels.

After that, Lawson decided to put her health first — she dropped out of work and school. At the time of the shooting, she was a doctoral candidate working on her dissertation.

“I did have to come out of that program and pretty much drop all of the major responsibilities that I had had in my life at that point and focus solely on my health and just trying to get better,” she said.

Her doctor entered her into a PTSD trauma intensive program, which put her in numerous types of therapy almost every day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and gave her medication to help her function.

Now, more than five years after the shooting, Lawson no longer has daily panic attacks, and said she’s in a much better place. She said that eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy helped her manage her triggers. She has continued to go to various forms of therapy since the shooting.

“I don’t want people to think that it’s just kind of this bleak outcome that you’re always you know going to be severely traumatized,” she said. “You do get better.”

Still, it is hard for her to hear about new shootings.

“They bring back the pain that you feel right after the experience that you’ve had and they can be also very triggering,” she said. “When I do hear about recent shootings and tragedies a lot of times I will begin to have nightmares again. My anxiety ramps up.”

When she hears about the latest tragedies, Lawson makes sure to reach out for support. Often, she’ll ask someone to go with her if she needs to go to the grocery store, or if she thinks she’ll encounter any other triggers. She, however, said that after tragedies she tends to stay home a little more.

One thing that helps Lawson, in addition to her therapy, is working with The Rebels Project, a volunteer community outreach non-profit founded by Columbine survivors that provides support to people after trauma.

“Just hearing Columbine survivors talk about some things that they continue to struggle with in life was very validating for me and it helped me to feel less almost abnormal or like there was something just damaged or wrong with me because I was still struggling too,” she said.

It’s important to seek help after a traumatic event, Lawson said. But she said that sometimes needing help is stigmatized. She said that some of her own friends and people in her support system didn’t understand why she was still struggling several months after the Washington Navy Yard shooting.

“A couple of them, you know, questioned it. I was told by one friend that I was choosing to dwell on what happened and be depressed. … Statements like that weren’t very beneficial and I really began to isolate and just stay to myself,” she said.

An important step for many survivors is to break through the stigma around mental health and around seeking therapy, Lawson said. She also said it’s important not to invalidate survivors’ experiences.

“I don’t believe that people ever ‘get over it,’ ” she said. “It’s always gonna be a part of you — a part of your story, in your experience — and you learn to manage, and it does get better.”

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Alex Jones is being sued for his false Sandy Hook hoax claims. He blames ‘psychosis.’

Two weeks ago, lawyers representing the Sandy Hook families suing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones recorded a three-hour interview with him, a court-ordered formality that, under normal circumstances, would have remained private until the defamation lawsuit eventually went to trial.

But this case is not normal.

Jones — who was censored by Twitter, Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify for his inflammatory rhetoric — has used his Infowars web show to speak publicly about the case and the people who are suing him — families of 10 Sandy Hook victims who were massacred during the mass shooting at the Connecticut elementary school in 2012. During one show, Jones brought his lawyer on-air to outline their defense strategy.

So on March 29, the Sandy Hook attorneys took the extraordinary step of posting the hours-long deposition of Jones to YouTube — in the spirit of “transparency,” they said.

“Alex Jones has tried to do everything he can to try his case in the media,” said Wesley Ball, one attorney in the team of lawyers representing the Sandy Hook families. Ball said the deposition was part of a motion filed by Jones’s attorneys to ensure there was enough evidence against their client to proceed in the court.

“The best thing we can hope for is to get Alex Jones to trial,” Ball said. For now, he said they prefer to let the evidence and deposition speak for themselves.

The videos, published in two parts, offer a window into Jones’s thoughts on the years-long smear campaign he and his Infowars show waged against the facts of the shooting at Sandy Hook, the integrity of the investigation that followed, and the families of the 26 children and educators who were killed.

Most notably, Jones refused to acknowledge whether his actions added to the grief and distress of those who had lost loved ones in the shooting, and he claimed the lawsuits filed against him were retaliatory for Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential bid in the 2016 election. When shown short video clips of himself from his own TV show, Jones continuously claimed they had been manipulated or taken out of context.

He also blamed his years of misinformation and spin about the massacre on “psychosis.” Jones claimed that years of witnessing “corrupt” governments and institutions made him deeply skeptical of the “mainstream media” and the “agenda hidden behind things.”

“And I, myself, have almost had like a form of psychosis back in the past where I basically thought everything was staged, even though I’m now learning a lot of times things aren’t staged,” Jones said. “So I think as a pundit, someone giving an opinion, that, you know, my opinions have been wrong. But they were never wrong consciously to hurt people.”

Jones acknowledged that he now believes the shooting happened and that children were killed, even after years of calling the event a “hoax” and survivors “crisis actors” without evidence. But, he said he still believes there was a “coverup.”

“I still have questions about Sandy Hook, but I know people that know some of the Sandy Hook families. They say, ‘No, it’s real’ — people I think are credible. And so over the years, I’ve — you know, especially as it’s become a huge issue, had time to really retrospectively think about it,” Jones said. “And as the whole thing matured, I’ve had a chance to believe that children died, and it’s a tragedy. But there are still real anomalies in the attempt to basically keep it blacked out that generally, when you see that in government, something’s being covered up.”

During the questioning, the Sandy Hook attorneys outlined the main conspiracy theories Jones has broadcast during the last six years and provided evidence debunking each one. Jones acknowledged that some of the so-called anomalies that initially inspired his conspiracy theories were later proven to be false. But he stopped short of taking responsibility for creating those theories; he told the Sandy Hook lawyers he was simply reporting on Internet chatter and providing a platform for the free exchange of ideas.

Jones claimed that the media, corporate lawyers, “the establishment” and the Democratic Party tried to make it seem like he was obsessed with the Sandy Hook massacre and that it was his only “identity.” They “tricked” him into consistently debating it, he said.

“I see the parties that continually bring this up and drag these families through the mud as the real villains, the conscious villains attempting to shore up the First Amendment in the process,” Jones said. “I do not consider myself to be that villain.”

The Sandy Hook lawyers said the deposition was part of a series of them they are taking that will help the judge decide if there is enough evidence to move the case forward. If that happens, lawyers from both sides will have an opportunity to take additional depositions in preparation for a trial to determine if Jones caused the victims’ families undue harm.

During the deposition, Jones was posed this question: “Mr. Jones, are you finally prepared to admit that you have, indeed, caused these families a substantial amount of pain?” attorney Mark Bankston asked. “Are you prepared to admit that?”

“I am not prepared to sign on to whatever you and the mainstream media make up about me,” Jones said.

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Infowars’ Alex Jones blames ‘psychosis’ for his Sandy Hook hoax claim

“I mean, how do I get a fair trial with stuff like this?” Jones said on InfoWars. “I’ve never said this guy’s name. Never said his name, until now. And obviously first, it’s we don’t know, he’s got gunshot wounds or whatever. Now it’s, well, apparent suicide. I mean, is there going to be a police investigation? Are they going to look at the surveillance cameras? I mean, what happened to this guy? This whole Sandy Hook thing is, like, really getting even crazier.”

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Gun-makers have always invoked the military to lure customers. Could it be their undoing?

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March 30, 2019, 1:50 PM GMT

By Jon Schuppe

On the pages of just about any current gun magazine are glossy advertisements featuring men dressed as soldiers or SWAT commandos wielding weapons made for the civilian market.

“Professional grade weaponry,” one says.

“Combat grade,” says another.

The images are part of a time-proven marketing strategy that the gun industry has pursued for decades: appealing to consumers’ admiration of the military and law enforcement.

It is also an angle of attack for families of the victims of the 2012 massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. They say the companies that made and sold the rifle used in the killings are to blame because their “militaristic marketing” made the gun attractive to criminals, including the shooter.

The Connecticut Supreme Court on March 14 reversed a lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit, saying it could proceed ─ offering gun-control advocates a potential path around a federal law that has inoculated gun-makers from being sued by shooting victims. The families and the companies, including Remington Arms, are due back in court in late April.

Gun-makers don’t expect the families to prevail; they say it’s preposterous that gun ads could have prodded the Newtown gunman to use an AR-15 style Bushmaster rifle purchased by his mother to commit one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history.

But the ads themselves are a legitimate — and effective — way of reaching customers, they say.

Gun consumers want the best quality products, and those used by the military and law enforcement are considered the best, said Larry Keane, general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry trade group.

“It’s not surprising that the advertising would speak to that because that’s what the consumer is interested in,” he said.

Industry research shows that half of the people who buy AR-15 style rifles are current or former members of the military or law enforcement, Keane said. Most use those weapons for target practice. But those types of weapons are also used for hunting and self-defense.

“People who are anti-gun will read into imagery what they want,” Keane said. “Other people will look at that advertising and say this firearm is high-quality, durable and will work when they need it.”

Attendees look at a display of guns in the Sig Sauer booth during the NRA Annual Meeting at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center on May 5, 2018 in Dallas, Texas.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Military images have been used to sell guns for a century. In one study of gun advertising, researchers found a 1918 issue of “Arms and the Man,” a magazine published by the National Rifle Association, where Colt Firearms touted the use of its guns with pictures of men in Navy and Army uniforms.

“On the Battlefield — In the Preservation of Law and Order — The Protection of Home and Country — Whenever and wherever armies or individuals have to enforce right with might — COLT’S FIREARMS have been creating, building and maintaining a reputation for merit, efficiency and reliability that has resulted in a position of unquestioned superiority,” the ad says, according to the researchers’ 2017 paper.

One of the researchers, David Yamane, said they examined a century of issues of the NRA’s magazine, now known as “American Rifleman,” and found that militaristic images and text went back as far as the publication itself. The frequency has typically risen during times of war, with the most recent peak occurring during the current “global war on terror,” characterized by rifle-wielding special operations units, said Yamane, a sociology professor at Wake Forest University. Those units have been glorified across popular culture, from television shows to video games to gun ads.

“The military has always been a good way to sell firearms,” said Yamane, the owner of an AR-15 style rifle made by Bushmaster, who is writing a book about the shift of American gun culture from its roots in hunting and target shooting to an emphasis on self-defense and concealed carry.

Jurgen Brauer, chief economist for Small Arms Analytics, a South Carolina-based gun industry research firm, said he has noticed a recent uptick in an “aggressive, or overly assertive, hero-style, someone-must-win imagery in firearms advertising.”

But it’s not just the gun industry. “It permeates American culture,” Brauer said.

By comparison, European gun advertising seems “more tranquil and not quite in-your-face assertive,” he said.

Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the nonprofit Violence Policy Center in Washington, has been tracking what he calls the “militarization” of gun marketing for several years. In 2011, his group published a report that criticized the trend, saying the gun industry “bombards its target market with the message that civilian consumers — just like real soldiers — can easily and legally own the firepower of militarized weapons.” Not much has changed, he said.

The impact of the Sandy Hook lawsuit remains to be seen, Sugarmann said. “All companies will continue business as usual until it becomes untenable in some way that is financially damaging,” he said.

The victims’ families still face long odds.

They are seeking damages for the loss of their loved ones in the Dec. 14, 2012, attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, in which the gunman, Adam Lanza, killed 26 people, including 20 first-graders, using a Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle.

The lawsuit names Remington and other companies involved in the manufacture or sale of the rifle. The companies asserted that they were immune to the lawsuit under a federal law that shields gun companies from civil liability when their products are used in crimes. A lower court agreed, and tossed it out.

But the Connecticut Supreme Court voted 4-3 this month to allow the lawsuit to continue. The court pointed out that the case hinged on “one narrow legal theory” that created a potential loophole by using a state law, Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act. The families argue that the gun companies violated that law by marketing the gun used by Lanza “to civilians for criminal purposes, and that those wrongful marketing tactics caused or contributed to the Sandy Hook massacre.”

The lawsuit could lead to the release of internal documents through the legal discovery process that expose the companies’ marketing strategies, the families and their lawyers have said.

It could also bankrupt the companies.

Those are big ifs, though.

“The families’ goal has always been to shed light on Remington’s calculated and profit-driven strategy to expand the AR-15 market and court high-risk users, all at the expense of Americans’ safety,” Josh Koskoff, one of the families’ lawyers, said in a statement after the ruling. The state Supreme Court’s decision “is a critical step toward achieving that goal.”

Remington has not publicly responded to the ruling. But the company is expected to appeal it.

Jon Schuppe

Jon Schuppe writes about crime, justice and related matters for NBC News. 

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'60 Minutes': Couple battle mass-shooting grief

A couple who lost their daughter in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting tell “60 Minutes” of their compassionate crusade to comfort others devastated by mass shootings.

Their story will resonate in Florida. Sandy and Lonnie Phillips traveled to Orlando after the Pulse nightclub shooting and to Parkland after the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The couple also went to Newtown, Isla Vista, San Bernardino, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Santa Fe, Pittsburgh and Thousand Oaks.

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, they explain what they learned after losing their daughter, Jessica Ghawi, in 2012.

Sandy Phillips expands on the idea of five stages of grief. “They don’t tell you, ‘Oh, no, you get to start it all again.’ And they’re out of sequence,” she tells Cooper. “And a lot of survivors just don’t know that, especially going into it. And you might find that what you have done for the last 20 years of your life or 30 years of your life has absolutely no meaning to you anymore. And that was certainly the case for us.”

To make the trips, they transformed their lives by quitting their jobs, giving up most of their possessions and renting out their home.

Along the way, they have helped themselves by helping others. “The compassion we get from those people, too — it’s not like it’s a one-way deal,” Lonnie Phillips tells Cooper.

But there’s no escaping their daughter’s loss. “There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t still get upset and still cry,” Sandy Phillips says. “And it’s a lifetime membership, and the cost of the dues was way, way, way too high.”

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will push back the start of “60 Minutes,” which usually begins at 7 p.m. Sunday.

In another segment this weekend, Bill Whitaker looks at a Connecticut prison program that accentuates rehabilitation and helped transform a former inmate into a college basketball star. Scott Pelley travels to the Siberian Arctic to learn about efforts to combat climate change by reviving species such as the woolly mammoth.

Email Hal at Follow him on Twitter: @tvguyhal. Instagram: TVGuyHal


Natalie Portman will play Lisa Nowak, the astronaut who drove cross country to kidnap her ex-boyfriend’s lover, in a new film titled “Lucy in the Sky.”

Natalie Portman will play Lisa Nowak, the astronaut who drove cross country to kidnap her ex-boyfriend’s lover, in a new film titled “Lucy in the Sky.”


The Council of 101’s new springtime event, the Festival of Fine Arts and Flowers, blends art and floral designs at the Orlando Museum of Art from March 29-31.

The Council of 101’s new springtime event, the Festival of Fine Arts and Flowers, blends art and floral designs at the Orlando Museum of Art from March 29-31.


In the latest wanderings of the Central Florida Explorer, Patrick finds his way around Clermont while on a bicycle scavenger hunt.

In the latest wanderings of the Central Florida Explorer, Patrick finds his way around Clermont while on a bicycle scavenger hunt.


Spooky Empire is back in town March 22-24 for a “scream break” convention with vendors, tattoo artists and celebrity guests.

Spooky Empire is back in town March 22-24 for a “scream break” convention with vendors, tattoo artists and celebrity guests.


Orlando Sentinel arts writer Matthew J. Palm picks the top three arts events of the week.

Orlando Sentinel arts writer Matthew J. Palm picks the top three arts events of the week.

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InfoWars' Alex Jones claims a 'psychosis' caused him to question Sandy Hook massacre

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March 30, 2019, 12:24 AM GMT

By Doha Madani

InfoWars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones said his false statements after tragic mass shootings were caused by a “psychosis.”

Jones made the claim during a sworn deposition in the defamation case brought against him by family members of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims.

The three-hour deposition was posted online Friday by the Texas law firm representing some of the Sandy Hook families, Kaster Lynch Farrar & Ball, LLP.

Jones, who is facing eight lawsuits regarding his comments on the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, is accused of perpetuating conspiracy theories that the tragedy was a staged event and that parents lied about their children’s deaths.

The lawsuits “seek to hold Mr. Jones accountable for his vile assertions that the Sandy Hook parents were lying about what happened to their children,” according to the firm’s website.

In the three-hour disposition, Jones said that “the public doesn’t believe what they’re told anymore” because of corruption in the government and the “mainstream media.”

“And I, myself, have almost had like a form of psychosis back in the past where I basically thought everything was staged, even though I’m now learning a lot of times things aren’t staged,” Jones said.

He did not follow up his assertion with information on where he may have been evaluated or diagnosed with a psychosis.

Jones also said that the “trauma” of the media “lying so much” caused him to distrust everything.

“So long before these lawsuits I said that in the past I thought everything was a conspiracy and I would kind of get into that mass group-think of the communities that were out there saying that,” Jones continued. “And so now I see that it’s more in the middle. All right? So that’s where I stand.”

A full transcript of the deposition was posted online by HuffPost, which first reported on the deposition.

Jones is the personality behind InfoWars, a radio, website and internet empire that has been widely criticized for pushing conspiracy theories alongside medically dubious dietary supplements and supplies for people preparing for doomsday.

In recent years, Jones has suggested the attacks on Sept. 11 were an “inside job” and that bombings in Oklahoma City and at the Boston Marathon were staged by actors. He has also claimed that vaccines and “chemtrails” are part of a government plot to injure Americans, and that the government puts fluoride in water to turn the population gay and kill them.

Jones faced a number of legal challenges last year.

In April 2018, a Massachusetts man sued Jones for $1 million, alleging that Jones had falsely identified him as the gunman who killed 17 people in a school shooting in February in Parkland, Florida.

In March 2018, a Virginia man who filmed a deadly car attack last summer at a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, sued Jones. The suit alleges that Jones had falsely labeled the man, Brennan Gilmore, a CIA operative and publicly accused him of staging the attack.

A judge ruled Friday that the defamation portion of Gilmore’s lawsuit can move forward, but approved a motion to dismiss claims for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, according to court documents.

Doha Madani is a breaking news reporter for NBC News. 

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