HARTFORD, CT — The full panel of Connecticut Supreme Court justices agreed Wednesday to hear an appeal by the Sandy Hook families against the makers of the AR-15 rifle.
Oral arguments in the case have yet to be scheduled, but are expected to happen within the next few months.
The lawsuit filed by 10 families of victims wounded or murdered in 2012 by the gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School argues that Remington, the manufacturer of the AR-15 used by the gunman, was liable for the massacre of 26 first-graders and educators in less than five minutes.
The case was dismissed in October 2016 when a judge ruled that Remington is protected by federal law against claims when people misuse firearms.
In court documents, the National Rifle Association defended Remington and said that “like all law-abiding Americans, NRA members have a fundamental enumerated right to keep and bear the firearms that plaintiffs’ legal theory would effectively remove from the market.”
The Sandy Hook families argue that Remington was liable and marketed the semi-automatic rifle to civilians like Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old gunman.
“Where others feared the catastrophic risk posed by these weapons, Remington saw a different problem: insufficient civilian demand for the AR-15,” Josh Koskoff, an attorney for the families, wrote in the Supreme Court brief. “Its solution was to develop a new market among ‘a younger demographic of users’ and to do so by employing a targeted marketing campaign linking the AR-15 to macho vigilantism and military-style insurrection.”
Remington argues in its court brief that the gun was legally purchased in 2010 by Lanza’s mother, Nancy.
“The XM-15 rifle and other AR-type semiautomatic rifles with similar design features have been purchased and owned for decades by “[m]illions of Americans” for lawful civilian purposes,” attorneys for Remington wrote in court documents.
They argue the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) passed by Congress in 2005 exempts them from the “negligent entrustment” the plaintiffs claim.
“Despite their best efforts plaintiffs cannot shoehorn their claims into the PLCAA’s narrow statutory exception for certain negligent entrustment actions,” the NRA wrote in a separate brief.