A Connecticut judge has ruled that the lawsuit filed Sandy Hook families’ against Remington Arms over the AR-15 rifle can proceed. This is a devastating blow to Second Amendment rights, the rights of millions of Americans, and shows that while our side is winning–we must remain vigilant in the defense of our rights. The motion to dismiss the lawsuit was denied, and both sides are due back in court on April 19 (via Washington Examiner):
A Connecticut judge ruled Thursday that a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the gun used in the Sandy Hook shootings, and other companies, can move forward.
A Connecticut Superior Court judge denied a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against the companies involved in the manufacturing, distribution and sale of the rifle used in the deadly 2012 shootings.
Adam Lanza used a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings on Dec. 14, 2012 to kill 26 people in less than five minutes. The families of the victims, which included 20 children, have sued the maker, distributor and seller of the rifle, arguing that the military-style gun should have never been available for civilians to purchase.
Connecticut State Judge Barbara Bellis rejected the gun companies' argument that a 2005 federal law can protect gun businesses from civil lawsuits.
Recently, Nicole Hockley, whose son was murdered by Lanza, penned an op-ed in USA Today, in which she noted that this legal action isn’t against gun makers, but the AR-15 rifle:
The AR-15, the military’s weapon of choice for 50 years, is a killing machine designed specifically to inflict mass carnage on a battlefield, unleashing 30 rounds in under 10 seconds. Soldiers require mental health screenings and more than 100 hours of training before using AR-15s.
Tragically, the AR-15’s brutal capabilities make it the weapon of choice for mass murderers, including our shooter. Since 2001, there have been 11 mass shootings in America using an AR-15. There are many kinds of guns but few, if any, enable as much carnage.
Instead, Remington markets these military killing machines to violence-prone young men without the training or mental health evaluation that even soldiers require. The company loans its brand to Call of Duty, the war-based video game that our shooter played fanatically, and advertises on websites such as AR15.com, which he also visited frequently.
This case is not about all gun makers; it’s about the AR-15. Remington’s targeted marketing makes military-style massacres accessible to unscreened civilians. The company’s strategy is responsible for the Sandy Hook massacre. The families have a right, even a responsibility, to hold it accountable.
Again, these are the facts. Rifles/shotguns are rarely used, if ever, in violent crimes. That’s based on FBI data. Second, a hunting rifle shooting a 30.06 round inflicts much more tissue damage than a .223 Remington round from an AR-15 rifle. Third, a handgun chambering hollow-point rounds can do just as much damage. This case is about gun makers. It is about Second Amendment rights. And it will provide groundwork for the anti-gun left to sue the gun industry out of existence. You can bet the mortgage that this will happen. Moreover, let us not forget that America isn’t a war zone. Violent crime is at historic lows, the murder rate from firearms dropped 3.9 percent from last year. In all, the gun homicide rate has dropped almost 50 percent since 1993. Lastly, the vast majority of gun owners are law-abiding. Even the USA Today’s editorial board has some qualms about this lawsuit:
We’re sympathetic to that argument because we have long felt the risks of widespread private ownership of assault rifles outweigh the benefits to legitimate gun owners. We supported the assault-weapons ban Congress passed in 1994, regretted that it was allowed to lapse in 2004, and backed reinstatement after Sandy Hook. But it’s up to governments, not the courts, to outlaw such weapons./p>
Moreover, the law’s definition of “negligent entrustment” specifies that it applies to “the person to whom the product is supplied,” and in this case it was Lanza’s mother, not the troubled son, who bought and owned the weapon.
The plaintiffs also argue that the AR-15 and its 30-round magazine are uniquely lethal, noting that the Sandy Hook shooter killed 26 people in under five minutes. But semiautomatic weapons of all kinds can be remarkably efficient killing machines. At Virginia Tech in 2007, Seung Hui Cho shot 47 people in 10 to 12 minutes using two semiautomatic handguns with magazines that held no more than 15 bullets.
Determined lawyers have been able to bring strong cases against bad actors in the gun industry, and the nation is safer for it. For the Sandy Hook families, though, recourse is best pursued at the ballot box, not in the courtroom.
Granted, I don’t agree with the board’s position on so-called assault weapons bans, but they understand that this action will surely circumvent the legislature. Of course, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the families of Sandy Hook, but when you try to place our Second Amendment rights in the crosshairs–you aren’t guaranteed a shield from criticism from those who support gun rights–and rightfully so.