Adam Lanza, 20, used a Remington AR-15 Bushmaster rifle, a semi-automatic civilian version of the USA military's M-16, to kill 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7, as well as six adult staff members, at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. "Today's decision is a critical step toward achieving that goal", Koskoff said.
Leading gun control advocates such as Everytown for Gun Safety and the Brady Campaign applauded the ruling. In defending the ruling, Justice Richard Palmer wrote, "The regulation of advertising that threatens the public's health, safety, and morals has always been considered a core exercise of the states' police powers".
The 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA, has provided the us firearms industry an nearly impenetrable defense against lawsuits by victims of mass shootings and gun violence, broadly shielding Remington and others such as American Outdoor Brands Corp, Sturm Ruger & Co and Vista Outdoor Inc from liability stemming from such incidents.
In a 4-3 ruling, the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court's earlier decision that Remington, the maker of the AR-15 Bushmaster, should not be considered automatically immune from liability and lawsuits when their product is used in a crime.
James Vogts, a lawyer for Remington, has cited the 2005 federal law and previously said the Bushmaster rifle is a legal firearm used by millions of people for hunting, self-defense and target shooting.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry's trade association, said it was reviewing the decision and did not have immediate comment.
But the state Supreme Court said that this angle of the case is not feasible legally.
The lawsuit alleges that Remington has "for years sold AR-15s in a manner that foreseeably leads to the use of those weapons by unauthorized and unsafe users" by marketing them as weapons used by soldiers in battle.
The lawsuit seeks undisclosed damages. Several groups, ranging from the NRA to emergency room doctors, submitted briefs to the court.
The firearms company had convinced a lower court that a federal law enacted in 2005 limited the liability of firearms manufacturers and dealers, essentially preempting wrongful death suits in state and federal courts. Courts have dismissed other similar wrongful death lawsuits on those grounds. Even though the court allowed the case to proceed, he said, there still be a very high bar for successfully suing Remington. Since gunmakers have in recent history been shielded from litigation, company officials may have felt emboldened to openly discuss tactics, marketing strategies and other revealing details about business dealings.
The lawsuit argues that such messages would appeal to a troubled young man like Lanza, that they may have influenced him to choose the XM15 from among his mother's guns when he attacked the elementary school, and that the attack would have been less deadly if he had used a different gun.