SEATTLE — The Seattle-area parents of a young woman killed during the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas are the first to blame gun manufacturers for their daughter's death.
“Our precious daughter was murdered and it’s only because of guns,” Jim Parsons told KIRO 7.
The Parsons’ 31-year old daughter, Carrie, was one of 58 people who died – 422 others were injured – when a man opened fire from his room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel on Oct. 1, 2017.
Since the shootings, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against the Las Vegas hotel, the organizer of the country music festival and the dead shooter's estate.
However, Jim Parsons and his wife, Ann-Marie, are the first to try to hold gun-makers legally accountable for their loss. The couple has just filed a lawsuit in Nevada blaming Colt’s Manufacturing Company and 10 other gun and weapon accessory manufacturers for "illegal, negligent and wrongful conduct."
“For a year, I didn’t even know who the shooter was,” Jim Parsons said.
“We’re not doing it for the money, and we’re definitely not doing it for the attention because we’re not comfortable with that,” Ann-Marie Parsons said, while explaining why the couple doesn’t even want their hometown identified.
“We’re doing it because somebody has to do something.”
Gun-makers have been sued after other mass shootings but, so far, the cases have been unsuccessful, in part because the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act protects manufacturers and sellers from civil liability.
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But the Parsons' complaint alleges that, after the 1929 Saint Valentine's Day Massacre, the U.S. Attorney General, Congress and the National Rifle Association agreed that "a machine gun…ought never to be in the hands of any private individual."
The Parsons and their Seattle-based lawyer, Rick Friedman of Friedman Rubin PLLP, believe the Las Vegas shooter was armed with "illegal" automatic weapons, essentially machine guns, because he used bump stocks to make his AR-15 rifles fire automatically.
“The statutory definition of a machine gun or automatic weapon is that it will repeatedly fire,” Friedman told KIRO 7 in a recent interview.
“The statutory definition also says any gun that can be simply modified to do that, and the AR-15 can be simply modified to shoot multiple shots with one function of the trigger, fits the statutory definition of an automatic weapon.”
Jim Parsons said, “All I know is: Assault weapons have no place in this society. Machine gun have no place in this society.”
The Parsons' legal complaint alleges that, as their daughter tried to escape the concert venue, the shooter "moved through his arsenal, unleashing automatic fire from each of Defendants' AR-15 machine guns."
The document further alleges, "Pursuant to 18 U.S.C 922 it is illegal for any licensed firearm manufacturer to sell or deliver a machine gun to any individual, corporation or company.”
Friedman said the defendants are partially responsible for the deaths of Carrie Parsons and the 57 other Las Vegas victims because “they are co-conspirators. They’ve worked for decades to get automatic weapons, weapons of war, into the hands of civilians, and that makes them culpable.”
The Parsons claim they're not trying to outlaw all gun ownership and and are not attacking the Second Amendment.
“That’s now what this is about,” Ann-Marie Parsons said. “This is about assault weapons, high-capacity magazines.” She also said she’s only willing to discuss their lawsuit publicly “because we lost this amazing person and in such a senseless way, and I think these things are preventable.”
While the Parsons are the first to blame gun manufacturers in the Las Vegas shooting, a lawsuit was filed years earlier in Connecticut by survivors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, blaming Remington and other defendants. Despite challenges by the North Carolina-based gun-maker, a Connecticut court has ruled the case against Remington and the other defendants can move forward.
The Parsons will be watching it closely.
KIRO 7 asked Colt’s Manufacturing Company and the other defendants named in the Parsons’ lawsuit for comment Tuesday. Most companies did not respond. Those that did were unable to provide comment on pending litigation.
Cox Media Group