Judge Tosses Newtown Families’ Suit Vs. Gun Maker

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A Connecticut judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by relatives of victims of the Newtown school attack, delivering a blow to an effort to hold accountable the makers of the assault rifle used in the 2012 massacre, the New York Times reports. Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis had surprised some of the plaintiffs by allowing the case to move toward trial this year, despite a 2005 federal law that offers firearm manufacturers and sellers broad protection from lawsuits when guns are used in crimes. Now, Bellis is citing the law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, as the basis for her reasoning. “This action falls squarely within the broad immunity provided” by the act, she wrote.

Lawyers for Remington Outdoor, whose AR-15-style Bushmaster rifle was used by Adam Lanza in the attack at the school, had argued for dismissal of the lawsuit, which also named the wholesaler and a local retailer as defendants. The plaintiffs, including relatives of nine of the 26 people who were killed in the shooting and a teacher who survived, contended that the law’s exception for cases of negligent entrustment, in which a gun is carelessly given or sold to a person posing a high risk of misusing it, justified the complaint. Bellis ruled that their claims were too broad to fall under negligent entrustment. She said Congress had already deemed the civilian population competent to possess the weapons by the nature of its law. The families will appeal.

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