Families of victims in one of America's worst mass shootings pushed again Tuesday to hold gun manufacturers responsible for the 2012 massacre that killed 20 small children and six adults.
A lawyer for families who lost loved ones in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting told Connecticut's highest court on Tuesday that Remington Outdoor Co [FREDM.UL] should be held responsible because its military-themed marketing was created to appeal to young men like killer Adam Lanza. He then killed himself.
According to Reuters, the weapon Lanza used was a Remington AR-15 Bushmaster rifle, which it described as a civilian version of the military's M-16.
A representative for the court declined to say when it would rule.
Remington's lawyer argued the federal law prohibits the lawsuit.
A Connecticut State Police officer holds a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle during a hearing reviewing gun laws in Hartford, Connecticut, in 2013.
"The law needs to be applied dispassionately", said lawyer James Vogts, representing Remington on Tuesday.
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A lower court judge agreed with the gun maker and dismissed the families' lawsuit in 2016.
The nation is watching the case closely because if the families succeed, and the state Supreme Court allows it to move forward, it could lead to a flood of lawsuits against gunmakers.
The packed courtroom in Hartford, Connecticut, included numerous victims' family members. "Remington may never have known, but they had been courting him for years". Ian Hockley, who lost his 6-year-old son, Dylan, in the shooting, told reporters after the proceeding that families were "running out of patience" over the gun maker's ability to escape liability. "We have not lost one ounce of confidence in the justness of our case". "Your job is to make and sell a product to prevent that from happening".
In 2005, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which sharply restricted lawsuits against gun sellers and makers by granting industry-wide immunity from blame when one of their products is used in a crime.
When Adam Lanza prepared for his massacre on the morning of December 14, 2012, he put on tactical gear, taped 30-round magazines together and reached for a weapon that Remington should never had made available to him, plaintiffs attorney Josh Koskoff told the panel of judges Tuesday in Hartford.
The argument has historically been used where someone lends a auto to a high-risk driver who goes on to cause an accident. "It's like the world has thrown up Exhibit A for the plaintiffs' argument", said Heidi Li Feldman, a Georgetown University law professor and tort law expert who has followed the case.
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.