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March 25, 2019

Lawsuit filed by Sandy Hook families against gun makers revived by Connecticut’s high court

March 14, 2019
In this Jan. 28, 2013 photo, Det. Barbara J. Mattson, of the Connecticut State Police, holds a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, the same make and model used by Adam Lanza in the 2012 Sandy Hook School shooting, during a hearing at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Conn. (Jessica Hill / AP)

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the parents of Sandy Hook victims can pursue claims that gun manufacturers recklessly marketed the AR-15 rifle used in the elementary school massacre.

The 71-page decision is a major legal victory for the families who seek to hold Remington and other companies liable for the deaths of 20 children and six adults on Dec. 14, 2012.

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“Congress did not intend to immunize firearms suppliers who engage in truly unethical and irresponsible marketing practices promoting criminal conduct… it falls to a jury to decide whether the promotional schemes alleged in the present case rise to the level of illegal trade practices and whether fault for the tragedy can be laid at their feet,” the ruling reads.

The decision reverses a lower court ruling that Remington was protected by a 2005 federal law, signed by President George W. Bush, that declared gun companies cannot be sued for harm caused by others as long as “the product functioned as designed and intended.”

“The families are grateful that our state’s Supreme Court has rejected the gun industry’s bid for complete immunity, not only from the consequences of their reckless conduct but also from the truth-seeking discovery process,” attorney Josh Koskoff said in a statement. “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. Today’s decision is a critical step toward achieving that goal.”

Ian Hockley, father of Dylan Hockley, one of the children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, speaks outside the Connecticut Supreme Court in Hartford in 2017, following a hearing on whether gun maker Remington Arms should be held liable for the massacre.
Ian Hockley, father of Dylan Hockley, one of the children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, speaks outside the Connecticut Supreme Court in Hartford in 2017, following a hearing on whether gun maker Remington Arms should be held liable for the massacre. (Dave Collins / AP)

The suit filed by the families of nine Sandy Hook victims, as well as a teacher who was shot and survived, presents serious legal risk for the gun industry.

They charge that Remington “immorally and unscrupulously” marketed a weapon of war to civilians like 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who fatally shot his mother before driving to Sandy Hook Elementary. There he fired 154 bullets in just over four minutes and then killed himself. The families seek to examine internal documents showing how Remington promoted the gun.

“FORCES OF OPPOSITION, BOW DOWN. YOU ARE SINGLE-HANDEDLY OUTNUMBERED,” read one ad for the AR-15, which labeled the firearm “The ultimate military combat weapons system.”

“CONSIDER YOUR MAN CARD REISSUED,” read another.

Remington filed for bankruptcy last year.

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