Supreme Court Asked to Weigh in On Sandy Hook Case

08/13/2019 | Products Liability

The manufacturer of a semi-automatic assault rifle has asked the United States Supreme Court to stop a lawsuit filed against it in Connecticut State Court by the families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. 

The Court received apetition for a hearing on August 1 from representatives of Remington Outdoor Co. and arguments from the families of nine of the slain victims and one survivor. The families argued that the Remington AR-15 Bushmaster, used by the 20-year-old shooter and purchased by the shooter’s mother, was advertised as a militaristic combat weapon wrongly marketed to civilians, in violation of Connecticut law that bans deceptive marketing practices.

Remington argues that a federal law passed in 2005, called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, calls for the lawsuit to be dismissed. The federal law they are referring to “shields gun manufacturers in most cases from liability when the firearms they produce are used in crimes.” Remington’s lawyer insisted the law exists to “ensure that firearms…  would be regulated only through the democratic process rather than the vagaries of litigation.”

A state court judge originally dismissed the case, siding with Remington, but the Connecticut Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, overturned the dismissal saying that the families could pursue their claim over the marketing of the gun under Connecticut state law. We now wait to see how the Supreme Court will rule.

In a world where shootings like Sandy Hook have become all too common, a ruling by the Supreme Court allowing a lawsuit against the gun manufacturer to continue could open up an opportunity for families and victims of mass shootings to bring similar claims. It also could mean that gun manufacturers will be held to a higher standard in marketing and selling high-capacity firearms capable of being used in mass shootings.