The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Thursday that families of the 26 victims murdered in the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting can sue the gun manufacturer who made the rifle used by the shooter.
The families of nine of the victims and one survivor have said Remington, along with a gun wholesaler and local retailer, are partially responsible for the carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, because they marketed the weapon based on its militaristic appeal.
Industry opponents say easy access to guns is to blame for continued mass shootings in the US, including the recent massacre of 58 people at a concert in Las Vegas and the slaughter just a month later of 26 people in a Texas church.
The families argued that the manufacturer, distributor and seller of the weapon negligently entrusted to civilian consumers an assault rifle that is suitable for use only by military and law enforcement personnel and violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) through the sale or wrongful marketing of the rifle. The plaintiffs took a particular issue with Remington's marketing of high-capacity magazines. Last month, the bill to outlaw high-capacity magazines, typically defined as magazines that are able to hold more than 10 rounds, was reintroduced into Congress.More news: Speaker banned from Aust after terror attack comments
Several lawsuits over mass shootings in other states have been rejected because of the federal law. It is a felony in CT to possess those types of magazines if obtained after that date.
The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Thursday Remington could be sued over how it marketed the Bushmaster rifle used by a 20-year-old man with mental health problems to kill 20 first-graders and six educators at the Newtown school in 2012.
Under US law, gun makers and dealers are shielded by legislation from legal liability if any of their weapons are used in criminal activity. According to the report, a motive behind the shooting by gunman Adam Lanza is still unknown.
The plaintiffs argue that marketing the rifle thorough video games was another example of unscrupulous advertising practices in which the company engaged. The ruling sends the case back to the lower court.More news: Huawei Has an Android Alternative, But It Doesn't Want to Use It
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 company has argued that it can not be hold responsible for Lanza's actions since it is in no position to assess the mental state of its end consumer.
Still, allowing the lawsuit to move forward means that there will be an opportunity for discovery that would unearth company documents that could be embarrassing for Remington.
Since Sandy Hook and subsequent school shootings, most federal efforts at gun control or gun rights expansion have faded and the bulk of firearms legislation has been in state legislatures across the country.More news: No Man's Sky Beyond update includes No Man's Sky Online
Proceedings were initially delayed after the firm filed for bankruptcy previous year in the wake of slumping sales.