Court rules Sandy Hook lawsuit against Remington can proceed

Police officer holds up a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle the same make and model of gun used by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook School shooting at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford Conn. Jan. 28 2013

Jessica Hill AP FILE

The court allowed a suit against the manufacturer of the weapon used by Adam Lanza in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown go forward despite federal statutes shielding gunmakers from liability.

The Connecticut Supreme Court on Thursday said a lawsuit challenging how Remington marketed the rifle used in the December 2012 Newtown school shooting can proceed, overturning a lower court's outright dismissal of the case.

"Discussions on Jones' web show have called the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax, and lawsuits by families of eight victims and a first responder say they've been subjected to harassment and death threats from Jones' followers", reported NBC News, adding: "Jones has defended the discussions on his show".

Remington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The families argued, among other things, that the rifle's manufacturer and distributor negligently allowed and encouraged civilians to use a weapon suitable only for military and law enforcement use.

In a mass shooting that rocked the United States shortly before Christmas of 2012, a 20-year-old gunman killed 20 school children aged 6 and 7 in addition to six adult staff, using a Remington AR-15 Bushmaster rifle, a semi-automatic civilian version of the US military's M-16.

Joshua Roberts  Reuters FILEAR-15 rifles are displayed for sale at the Guntoberfest gun show in Oaks Pa. Oct. 6 2017
Joshua Roberts Reuters FILEAR-15 rifles are displayed for sale at the Guntoberfest gun show in Oaks Pa. Oct. 6 2017

Connecticut's child advocate said Lanza's severe and deteriorating mental health problems, his preoccupation with violence and access to his mother's legal weapons 'proved a recipe for mass murder'.

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 there are exceptions for violations of state laws, and that's what the CT court will now allow a state court trial to examine. The National Rifle Association, the powerful gun rights lobby, did not immediately comment.

"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", Joshua Koskoff, an attorney for the Plaintiffs said Thursday, according to USA Today. "Today's decision is a critical step toward achieving that goal", [attorney Josh] Koskoff added [in a statement].

The 2005 federal law has been cited by other courts that rejected lawsuits against gun makers and dealers in other high-profile shooting attacks, including the 2012 Colorado movie theater shooting and the Washington, D.C., sniper shootings in 2002.

The lawsuit, which lists Bushmaster Firearms International as the defendant, has already overcome years worth of legal hurdles after first being filed more than four years ago, more than two years after the shooting at the CT school left 26 people dead.

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