Families of at least nine victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, filed a lawsuit on Monday seeking monetary, punitive damages and injunctive relief against the manufacturer of the rifle allegedly used in the shooting.
The wrongful death lawsuit claims that Bushmaster Firearms International, Remington Outdoor Company which owns Bushmaster, Camfour a distributor of Bushmaster products and Riverview Gun Sales, the gun shop that sold the rifle to the mother of the shooter, Nancy Lanza, “knew, or should have known” that the AR-15 “posed an unreasonable and egregious risk of physical injury to others.”
“As a result of selling AR-15s to the civilian market, individuals unfit to operate these weapons gain access to them… Despite that knowledge, defendants continue to sell the XM15-E52 rifle to the civilian market,” states the claim.
Drawing a comparison to how the military monitors the use and storage of the M16, an attorney for the family argued that there are no institutional requirements regulating the public’s use and storage of the AR-15.
“There is so much ample evidence of the inability of the civilian world to control these weapons, that it is no longer reasonable to entrust them to for that purpose,” Attorney Joshua Koskoff told the Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, the firearms industry trade association said that the lawsuit was without merit.
“It’s exactly the kind of lawsuit the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was designed to stop,” said Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
“Millions of people own them and do use them every day for lawful purposes,” added Keane.
A spokesman for Remington declined to comment on the case but according to a 2013 Washington Times article, George Kollitides, the chief executive of Remington, said that perpetrator of the act, Adam Lanza, was responsible for the shooting, not the rifle. “Any kind of instrument in the wrong hands can be put to evil use,” he said.