updated 9/8/2004 10:27:56 PM ET 2004-09-09T02:27:56

The manufacturer and dealer of the rifle used in the Washington, D.C.-area sniper shootings have agreed to pay $2.5 million in a settlement with victims’ families, a lawyer said Wednesday night.

The settlement with Bushmaster marks the first time a gun manufacturer has agreed to pay damages for negligent distribution of weapons, said Jon Lowy, a lawyer with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. He also said the settlement with Bull’s Eye Shooter Supply is the largest against a gun dealer.

“These settlements send a loud and clear message that the gun industry cannot turn a blind eye to how criminals get their guns,” said Lowy, who helped argue the case.

Bushmaster Firearms of Windham, Maine, agreed to pay $550,000 to eight victims of the sniper shootings. Bull’s Eye Shooter Supply of Tacoma agreed to pay $2 million.

Defense lawyers did not immediately return calls for comment.

A judge will determine how to divide the settlement among two people who were injured in the shootings and the families of six people who were killed.

John Allen Muhammad, 43, was convicted and sentenced to death for murder in one of the 10 fatal shootings in October 2002 in the Washington, D.C.-area. His co-conspirator, 19-year-old Lee Boyd Malvo, was tried separately, convicted of murder in a different death and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

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