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Gunmaker Remington can be sued over marketing of rifle used in Sandy Hook shooting, court rules

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A bomb threat forced the evacuation of the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, a day of memorial services and moments of silence to mark the sixth anniversary of the massacre of 20 first-graders and six educators. (Dec. 14)
AP

The maker of the semiautomatic rifle that was used to kill 20 children and six educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 can be sued because of the way the gun was marketed, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

A federal law passed in 2005 that protects gunmakers from liability when their arms are used in the commission of crimes doesn’t apply in the lawsuit that names Remington, which makes the Bushmaster rifle that Adam Lanza wielded in carrying out the massacre in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, the court ruled in a 4-3 decision.

In doing so, justices overturned a lower-court ruling that found that the wrongful-death lawsuit brought by a survivor and nine of those killed in the attack couldn’t go forward against Remington, which has denied wrongdoing.

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While the state supreme court threw out many of the allegations in the suit, it let stand the claim that Remington could be held as a defendant over how the gun, which is based on the AR-15 assault rifle, is marketed. The lawsuit contends that Remington, based in Madison, North Carolina, advertised the gun model in ways that glorified it to young people and that the weapon is inherently dangerous.

“The regulation of advertising that threatens the public’s health, safety and morals has long been considered a core exercise of the states’ police powers,” wrote Justice Richard Powers in the majority opinion.

Lanza was 20 when he shot and killed his mother at home, then went to the Newtown school, where he gunned down first-graders and educators with a Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle. Lanza then killed himself.

The massacre shocked the nation and led then-President Barack Obama to propose tougher gun laws.  

More: Sandy Hook group shares powerful PSA to prevent school shootings on anniversary of Newtown tragedy

The plaintiffs’ attorney hailed the court’s decision. 

“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,” attorney Joshua Koskoff said. “Today’s decision is a critical step toward achieving that goal.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

 

 

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