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Is gun maker liable? Court takes up Newtown shooting case

14 November 2017

The families of nine Sandy Hook victims and one teacher who survived the deadly mass shooting presented their case to Connecticut Supreme Court justices Tuesday in their lawsuit against Remington, maker of the AR-15 weapon used by Adam Lanza to kill 20 children and six adults in 2012, the Hartford Courant reports.

A lower court had sided with the defense, but the state Supreme Court agreed to review the case to decide if it can go before a jury.

The plaintiffs said the law does not protect Remington because it marketed the rifle "not for sport or for target shooting or self-defense" but "for exactly what it was", Koskoff said. The case was thrown out by a lower court previous year, when a judge sided with Remington's position that gunmakers are immune to the lawsuit because of a provision in the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

Koskoff said the families are hoping the high court will return the case back to the Bridgeport Superior Court so "the discovery phase of this case can begin and we can start uncovering documents on how this military weapon ended up in civilian hands".

"In the military, a weapon of this time is subject to strict rules about its use and storage", said Ian Hockley, whose son Dylan was one of the victims. They say it is allowed under an exemption to the federal law for common law "negligent entrustment", saying Remington entrusted to the public a product it knew, or should have known, could be used to injure others.

The group contends that the gunmaker's disregard for what was likely to happen was equivalent to gun retailers selling weapons to customers who they knew were likely to commit a crime - a scenario that isn't protected by a 2005 federal law shielding gun manufacturers.

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Several of the victims' families attended the hearing and spoke after it.

"Make people interested in buying your products and I would point out that the advertisements the counsel has referenced were not necessarily directed to a younger demographic", Vogts said.

"That's how negligent entrustment works". The lawsuit also named Camfour Holding LLP, the gun's distributor, and Riverview Gun Sales Inc., the East Windsor gun shop where Nancy Lanza, Adam's mother, bought the AR-15.

The argument has historically been used where someone lends a auto to a high-risk driver who goes on to cause an accident. "You can't launder negligence through other parties", Koskoff said.

If the Sandy Hook families are successful, Timothy Lytton, a law professor at Georgia State University, said on Monday he would expect the US Supreme Court to take up the case. "Under the law. the manufacturer and the sellers of the firearm used by the criminal that day are not legally responsible for his crimes and the harm that he caused".

Is gun maker liable? Court takes up Newtown shooting case