Court Gives Go-Ahead To Lawsuit Against 'Sandy Hook' Gun Manufacturer
Connecticut's top court has given a landmark ruling to allow a lawsuit
Connecticut's top court has given a landmark ruling to allow a lawsuit by the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting against the manufacturer of the AR-15 used in the massacre.
The Connecticut state Supreme Court overturned the 2016 decision of a lower court that threw the lawsuit out.
It argued that the defendants, arms manufacturer Remington and the distributors of the firearm were exempted from responsibility under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).
Weapon manufacturers are exempt from liability in gun violence crimes since the PLCAA passed by Congress in 2005.
Despite the gun maker being protected under the act, it ruled that the plaintiffs and families of the nine victims of the massacre are entitled to sue the companies for violating the marketing rules
According to The BBC: In a 5-4 vote, the US state's Supreme Court said the lawsuit could advance by state consumer protection laws.
The gun was used by Adam Lanza, who killed 27 people, including 20 elementary school students.
The ruling is a rare legal blow for arms firms.
The lawsuit, by relatives of nine victims and one survivor, points to the "militaristic" marketing of Remington's AR-15 rifle.
"The families' goal has always been to shed light on Remington's calculated and profit-driven strategy to expand the AR-15 market and high-risk court users, all at the expense of Americans' safety," said Josh Koshoff, a lawyer for the victims' families.
"Today's decision is a critical step toward achieving that goal."
Proceedings were originally suspended after the firm filed for bankruptcy last year in the wake of slumping sales.
An initial suit against Remington was thrown out in 2016, and an appeal by the families was taken to the state's highest court last year.
It is assumed to go to the US Supreme Court.
Under US law, gun makers and dealers are shielded by legislation from legal liability if any of their weapons are used in criminal activity.
Allowances are made, however, in the case of harmful marketing.
A wave of school shootings in recent years has brought the discussion around America's gun laws clearly into focus.
"It seemed kind of unbelievable that this industry would enjoy that kind of protection," said David Wheeler, a father of a Sandy Hook victim, in an interview with the Financial Times.
"It's hard not to look at this [ruling] and think the states are perhaps swinging to a more sensible place."
In response, some US retailers have raised the age limit for certain firearms purchases to 21 or stopped stocking semi-automatic weapons.
Last month, the country's House of Representatives approved a bill expanding background checks for all gun sales.
Critics of the legislation say the changes would not have prevented many of recent shootings, and President Trump has promised to veto the bill if it passes the US Senate.
Lanza killed 20 students and six staff at the school. He had earlier shot his mother dead. As police closed in on the school, he killed himself.