The eyes of the legal world and both sides of the growing debate about the role of guns in society were focused on the Connecticut Supreme Court Tuesday morning as justices heard arguments in a lawsuit by the victims of the Sandy Hook school massacre against the manufacturer of the weapon used in the shooting, reports the Hartford Courant. Families of nine victims who were killed and a teacher who survived the Dec. 14, 2012, massacre filed the lawsuit in January 2015 seeking to hold Remington Outdoor Co. liable, arguing it marketed the AR-15 to the public even though it knew the weapon was designed for military use. Adam Lanza shot his way into the Newtown school and fired 154 bullets in about five minutes from a Bushmaster AR-15, killing 26 people, including the 20 first-graders.The lawsuit also named Camfour Holding LLP, the gun’s distributor, and Riverview Gun Sales Inc., the East Windsor gun shop where Nancy Lanza, Adam’s mother, bought the AR-15.
The issue has gained even more national attention since Sandy Hook. The case goes before the court just more than a week after the latest mass shooting where an assault rifle was used to kill 26 people inside a Texas church. Since the lawsuit was filed by the Sandy Hook victims there have been other mass shootings, including Sutherland Springs, Texas. In Las Vegas and Orlando, shooters used high-powered weapons to kill more people than Lanza did in Sandy Hook. A Superior Court judge dismissed the lawsuit in 2016, agreeing with attorneys for Remington that the lawsuit “falls squarely within the broad immunity” provided to gun manufacturers and dealers by the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA. Legal experts said the case comes down to how the state Supreme Court will interpret two possible exceptions allowed under PLCAA — whether Remington can be held liable for so-called “negligent entrustment” or whether it violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.