Newtown Families Want To See Remington Arms In Court

Feb 22, 2016

Bill Sherlock, one of the plaintiffs, tells reporters he has his whole life to continue fighting the gun industry's marketing practices in Bridgeport Superior Court on Monday Feb. 22nd, 2016.
Credit Cassandra Basler / WSHU

In Connecticut, lawyers representing weapons manufacturer Remington Arms told a state judge on Monday to dismiss a lawsuit that would force them to present their marketing strategies in a public court. That lawsuit was filed by families of victims killed with a military-style assault rifle made by Remington in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting.

The families filing the lawsuit say Remington has no business marketing the Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle to civilians.

Mark Barden’s son Daniel was one of the children killed in the shooting. Barden told reporters before the hearing that Remington should be held accountable in court for advertising military-style weapons.

“This is an instrument of war, designed for the battlefield, that is sold and marketed toward the general public,” Barden said. “And as we know, this is what happened in Sandy Hook elementary when the general public gets their hands on this kind of firepower. In less that 5 minutes, we know what happened.”

In those 5 minutes, shooter Adam Lanza used a gun his mother bought to shoot 20 children and 6 adults.

Bill Sherlock’s wife was a school psychologist killed in the shooting. Sherlock said getting the lawsuit to court would be a big start in a long fight against the gun industry’s marketing strategy.

“That, to me, is where we start with this whole process,” Sherlock said. “Much like cigarettes. For years, they knew cigarettes were killing you. And what’s happened in the meantime? No Advertising warning label, scientific studies...”

Remington’s lawyers say the case shouldn’t come to court because a 2005 federal law protects gun manufactures or dealers from being sued if their product is used to commit a crime.

The law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, has some exceptions. One is “negligent entrustment,” or if a seller supplies a gun to someone when they should know that person will likely use the gun to hurt people.

The victims families are accusing remington of negligent entrustment. They say the weapon that was used the shooting massacre was a military style weapon that should never have been sold to civilians.

Remington’s lawyers argued in court that under definition of the law, it does not qualify as a “seller” of the assault rifle, and the exception is written to include “sellers” but not “manufacturers.”

A wholesaler called Camfour Inc. and the now-defunct gun shop that sold the weapon to the shooter’s mother are also defendants in the lawsuit.

The family lawsuit also cites a Connecticut state consumer protection law as a means for suing Remington. The gun company argued that there is no precedent for state consumer protection laws to regulate gun sales.

The judge will decide whether the case will come to court by mid-April.