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Judge Says Sandy Hook Families Can Sue Gun Manufacturers

April 14, 2016, 7:53 PM UTC
Inside The Rocky Mountain Gun Show As U.S. Congress Is Expected to Tackle Legislation on Gun Control
A man holds a Bushmaster AR-15 Model A2 semi-automatic assault rifle at the Rocky Mountain Gun Show in Sandy, Utah, U.S., on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. A working group led by Vice President Joe Biden is seriously considering measures that would require universal background checks for firearm buyers, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors. Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by George Frey—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The plaintiffs in the case are families of nine victims and one school administrator who was injured, but survived, the Hartford Courant reports. They filed a lawsuit against firearm maker Remington Arms Co., alleging that it had negligently sold a weapon to civilians that should only be used by the military or law enforcement. The gun used during the shooting was a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, killing six teachers and 20 students.

Remington attempted to get the case dismissed by invoking the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which generally frees gun makers from liability when one of their weapons is used violently. Attorney Josh Koskoff, however, argued that “negligent entrustment” is an exception to that law.

Judge Barbara Bellis ended up ruling against dismissing the case. “At this juncture,” she wrote, “the court need not and will not consider the merits of the plaintiffs’ negligent entrustment theory.” Though Remington can use the same defense later on to question the plaintiffs’ allegations, it does not preclude the case from being heard in the first place.

“Today’s ruling in Connecticut is an important step forward for these families, who are bravely fighting to hold irresponsible gunmakers accountable for their actions,” Hillary Clinton said in a statement responding to the ruling. “They deserve their day in court. Period.”