The Supreme Court in Connecticut has ruled that the families of victims in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting can sue gun-maker Remington. The lawsuit(s) will focus on how the company marketed the semi-automatic rifle used in the shooting that killed 20 children and six educators. The ruling could open the way for other victim families in other shootings to hold gunmakers responsible for how their weapons are used.
The plaintiffs in Connecticut include a survivor and relatives of nine people killed in the massacre. They argue the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used by Newtown shooter Adam Lanza is too dangerous for the public and Remington glorified the weapon in marketing it to young people, including those with mental illness.
Remington, based in Madison, North Carolina, has denied wrongdoing and previously insisted it can’t be sued because of the 2005 law, called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
See this collection of advertisements that are at the root of the pending lawsuits. Plaintiffs say Remington promoted its Bushmaster rifle as an assault weapon, a weapon of war.
The suit is a high-stakes challenge to gun companies, which have rarely been held liable for crimes committed with their products, and could mark a new front in the battle over gun regulations and corporate accountability. It centers on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), a 2005 law that shields manufacturers and retailers from civil liability in lawsuits brought by victims of gun violence. An eventual ruling against Remington could establish legal precedent, opening doors for more lawsuits against gun manufacturers, and expose the company’s communications about its marketing plans.