US court rules Sandy Hook victims can sue gun manufacturer

A gun advertisement, showing a picture of a large assault rifle with the words "consider your man card reissued".
An example of Remington's marketing of the AR-15 bushmaster, used in the Sandy Hook shooting

The supreme court in Connecticut have ruled that the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting should be able to sue Remington, the manufacturers of the assault rifle used to kill 20 children and six adults in 2012. The company is accused of having irresponsibly marketed a military-grade weapon to high-risk individuals. In 2016 a court ruled in favour of the company, dismissing the case under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), but the supreme court agreed in a 4-3 verdict to reverse parts of the original ruling.

The 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act is a law which protects arms companies from being held liable for acts committed with the weapons they manufacture - the only industry protected by such legal measures. The law does allow for companies to be sued if their products are defective, breaking gun sales laws or for “negligent entrustment” - selling weapons to people who will clearly misuse them. The Connecticut supreme court ruled that the company could be sued for unfair trade practises, because the families had demonstrated that the company had marketed its weapons in an "unfair, unethical, or dangerous manner", seeking to "expand the market for [its] assault weapons through advertising campaigns that encouraged consumers … to launch offensive assaults against their perceived enemies". The court also ruled that the families could demand access to internal company documents.

One of the lawyers representing the families said "“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.”


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