Sandy Hook gun lawsuit gets its day in Connecticut Supreme Court

Sandy Hook gun lawsuit gets its day in Connecticut Supreme Court

The families say 20-year-old killer Adam Lanza would never have been able to carry out his 264-second attack if he had not had access to a high-capacity weapon which had been "specifically engineered" for military use in combat.

Lawyers for several families of the victims claim manufacturer Remington Arms, along with a gun wholesaler and local retailer, should be held responsible for the massacre in Newtown.

On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Newtown, Connecticut school, before turning the gun on himself. The case was thrown out by a lower court past 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.

The legal landscape of suing firearms manufacturers has been mixed, with some lawsuits failing and others succeeding.

Legal experts said the case comes down to how the state Supreme Court will interpret two possible exceptions allowed under PLCAA - whether Remington can be held liable for so-called "negligent entrustment" or whether it violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. "The manufacturer of the Bushmaster takes no such precautions when unleashing their product into the civilian market".

Lanza (20) used a Remington AR-15 Bushmaster rifle, a semi-automatic civilian version of the U.S. military's M-16, to kill 20 schoolchildren between the ages of 6 and 7, as well as six adult staff members, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012.

David Studdert, a Stanford law professor, said on Monday he thought negligent entrustment was a tough argument for the families to make because it has traditionally involved someone having direct knowledge that another person poses a risk. "We want to see the degree to which they deliberately were trying to ring the bells of users with the characteristics of an Adam Lanza".

The attorney for Remington argued that under state and federal law, his client is not responsible for Adam Lanza's crimes. Defense attorney James Vogts stated that the lawsuit would require a reinterpretation of the law itself.

The plaintiffs in the case - a survivor and relatives of nine people killed - sued Remington in 2015, citing the negligent entrustment exception and claiming the company violated a CT law against unfair sales and marketing practices. In court, he argued that people most commonly use this type of rifle for deer hunting.

After the hearing, Ian Hockley, father of Dylan, said Remington "could not care less what happens to their guns once the cash is in the bank, showing utter disregard for lives this weapon takes and the families it destroys".

The packed courtroom in Hartford, Connecticut, included numerous victims' family members.

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