Families can sue gun maker for Sandy Hook school massacre: court

Families can sue gun maker for Sandy Hook school massacre: court

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that families of Sandy Hook victims can sue Remington Arms - the company that made the weapon used in the Newtown elementary school massacre in 2012.

'"The majority's decision today is at odds with all other state and federal appellate courts", the group said.

Industry opponents say easy access to guns is to blame for continued mass shootings in the USA, including the recent massacre of 58 people at a concert in Las Vegas and the slaughter just a month later of 26 people in a Texas church.

Authorities say Adam Lanza murdered his mom at home, then shot and killed 20 children and six adults at the school using an AR-15-style rifle called a Bushmaster Model XM15-E2S.

Connecticut Chief Justice Richard Robinson focused much of the dissenting opinion on the intent of Congress to limit gun-makers' liability.

The court agreed with the lower court judge's decision to dismiss claims that directly challenged the federal law shielding the gun companies from litigation, but found the case can move forward based on a state law regarding unfair trade practices.

The 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA, has provided the U.S. firearms industry an nearly impenetrable defence against lawsuits by victims of mass shootings and gun violence, broadly shielding Remington and others such as American Outdoor Brands Corp, Sturm Ruger & Co and Vista Outdoor Inc from liability stemming from such incidents.

In 2016, a lower-court judge dismissed the case in response to a request by Remington, citing a federal statute that protects gun manufacturers and distributors from being implicated if their weapons are used in criminal activity.

A gun industry group, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which happens to be based in Newtown, said the state Supreme Court ruling was an "overly broad interpretation" of an exception to the 2005 federal law. "But what we've said from the outset is all we want is our day in court, for the law to be upheld and for a jury to decide our case".

The decision was hailed by the lawyers for the plaintiffs as "a crucial step" towards exposing "Remington's calculated and profit-driven strategy to expend the AR-15 market...at the expense of Americans' safety". He accuses Remington of targeting younger, at-risk males through "militaristic marketing and astute product placement in violent first-person shooter games".

The case had been closely watched by advocates on both sides of the gun issue.

Robert J. Spitzer, chairman of political science at the State University of NY at Cortland and an expert on guns and the Second Amendment, said the CT ruling runs counter to the 2005 federal law.

Should the case go before the US Supreme Court, where conservatives hold a 5-4 majority, it may not be affected by the constitutional protection for people to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment. The lawsuit will now allow the plaintiffs to gain access to internal Remington documents that can shed light on its advertising practices.

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