BREAKING: Connecticut Supreme Court Allows Sandy Hook Lawsuit against Remington to Move Forward

In this Jan. 28, 2013, file photo, firearms training unit Detective Barbara J. Mattson, of the Connecticut State Police, holds up a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, the same make and model of gun used by the Sandy Hook murderer. (Photo: AP/Jessica Hill, File)

In what could be a major blow to the firearms industry in the United States, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled today that parents of Sandy Hook massacre victims can move forward with a lawsuit against Bushmaster Firearms International, a subsidiary of Remington.

The court ruled in a 4-3 decision that while Remington cannot be held liable for simply selling its AR-style Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle, the company’s advertising may have been unlawful under Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act.

The majority argued that a federal statute that protects firearms manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits includes an exception that allows for a suit to be brought under Connecticut’s trade law.

Referencing this statute [known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA)], the court stated, “Congress did not intend to immunize firearms suppliers who engage in truly unethical and irresponsible marketing practices promoting criminal conduct. It falls to a jury to decide whether the promotional schemes alleged in the present case rise to the level of illegal trade practices and whether fault for the tragedy can be laid at their feet.”

Gun rights groups have strongly criticized the decision.

“This ruling strains logic, if not common sense,” said Second Amendment Foundation founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The court dismissed the bulk of the lawsuit’s allegations, but appears to have grasped at this single straw by deciding that the advertising is somehow at fault for what Adam Lanza did that day in December more than six years ago.

“This is like suing Ford or General Motors because a car they sold was stolen and used to run over a pedestrian all because the car manufacturers advertised that their car had better acceleration and performance than other vehicles,” he added.

SEE ALSO: Rahm Emanuel’s Advice Days After Sandy Hook: ‘Tap Peoples Emotions’

“The majority’s decision today is at odds with all other state and federal appellate courts that have interpreted the scope of the exception,” the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) said in a statement.

The NSSF called the court’s interpretation of the PLCAA’s exception “overly broad” and said it is “contrary to legislative text, cannons of statutory interpretation and the legislative history of the PLCAA.”

At trial, Sandy Hook families argued that Remington marketed the rifle in an “unethical, oppressive, immoral, and unscrupulous manner by extolling the militaristic and assaultive qualities of the rifle and reinforcing the image of the rifle as a combat weapon that is intended to be used for the purposes of waging war and killing human beings.”

They cited examples of advertisements for the rifle depicting soldiers and using language that described the firearm as “the ultimate combat weapons system.”

The Sandy Hook murderer, furthermore, was “especially susceptible to militaristic marketing” due to his aspirations of being in the military, according to the families’ lawyers.

“Remington may never have known Adam Lanza, but they had been courting him for years,” Mr. Koskoff, one of the lawyers representing the families, told the panel of judges during oral arguments in the case in 2017.

Gottlieb called that rationale “absurd.”

“Did the advertising even remotely suggest that the Bushmaster is best for murdering people?” he asked. “That’s a stretch of credulity worthy of surgical elastic.”

“There is no evidence the killer was driven by any advertising whatsoever,” he continued. “This is an affront to the First Amendment as well as the Second. Even hinting that the killer was motivated in some way by an advertising message is so far out in the weeds that it may take a map for the court to find its way back.”

SEE ALSO: Brady Campaign Seeks to Overturn Sandy Hook Ruling Protecting Remington from Liability

Lawyers for Remington argued that the PLCAA’s exception should not apply to advertising campaigns like those promoting the company’s rifles. In addition, they argued that the weapons were marketed as tools for home defense and target practice, not for committing criminal acts.

James B. Vogts, a lawyer for Remington, said in court that the shooting “was a tragedy that cannot be forgotten.”

“But no matter how tragic,” he added, “no matter how much we wish those children and their teachers were not lost and those damages not suffered, the law needs to be applied dispassionately.”

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over two years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco.

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Mattitude March 16, 2019, 11:55 am

    First off Adam Lanza didn’t purchase the weapon, his mom did so no matter what the advertising was or any possible influence on him because he didn’t but it. Second how can anyone prove that he (if he did in fact buy the weapon, which he didn’t) even looked at any specific advertising? Lastly, AR choices in Connecticut are very limited and most choices to purchase boil down to what’s available and quite possibly that Bushmaster was the only option available.

  • Pete March 16, 2019, 9:17 am

    The SCOTUS will certainly overturn this ruling on first amendment grounds. The 4-3 decision on narrow grounds of the advertising content cannot be tied directly to the manufacturer.

    Just as good a case could be made that all the scare tactics of the ANTI-GUN crowd is what hyped up the sick child to take his murderous action. They should be held accountable.

  • Bradley Hamil March 15, 2019, 8:43 pm

    OK. If they can blame the gun maker, the same court should uphold a compliant with all automobile manufacturers. If the gun did it, the auto did it.

  • pete March 15, 2019, 6:08 pm

    Of course it’s the right decision. Any other manufacturer of any other product should be and is responsible at least in part. We all get the same gun nut magazines and we’ve all seen some of those ads. Let’s be honest, some ads are just plain scary, dark, weird, etc. To the ‘right’ mind that is already warped, those ads are like permission to lock and load, and the companies that do the ads know that. It’s pretty much the same thing that the drug makers have been doing, knowing that they have been feeding an addiction epidemic and doing it for profit.

    • Jay March 17, 2019, 12:16 am

      You are ridiculous. Nobody in their right mind can be influenced to commit any crime, let alone the heinous act of mass murder of children no less, by ANY advertising, no matter how you may perceive it.

      In ANY case, the guilt of actions taken by an individual cannot be transferred to an inanimate object with absolutely no volition of its own. Any attempt to do so exceeds the bounds of absurdity as does any attempt to support such nonsense.
      Obviously, if there is anything here that is “just plain scary, dark, weird, etc.” it is you and those like you!

    • Dr Motown March 17, 2019, 4:54 pm

      Can you show any ad from Remington that encourages owners to commit murder?

  • Click March 15, 2019, 12:39 pm

    Who built the road that carried the shooter???? Better sue them too…. And, the mayor of the town, and the president…

  • Clint W. March 15, 2019, 12:25 pm

    Well, looks like firearm manufacturers that advertise in the public sphere will have to include the equivalent of the liquor and auto folks, “Drink Responsibly”, and “Professional drive on a closed course, do not try to duplicate”. It says on a bottle of Formula 409, ‘Do Not Drink”, perhaps a, “Do not Shoot People” on the barrel will release them from all liability. Works for cars and booze.

  • Pseudo March 15, 2019, 12:10 pm

    So as another example for a lawsuit, how about cell phone manufactures/ cellular data access/usage for those killed by folks “texting” while driving? All alcohol bevearage msnufactures. Hell even throw in “hammer” manufactures as typically more are killed by hammers than rifles. Etc etc

  • Johnh March 15, 2019, 12:02 pm

    The research that I did on Sandy Hook shows that it was a staged event. Sandy Hook school was closed due to being built on a dump site.

    The pictures of the school parking lot do not show current handicap markings.

    One of the cops can be seen in as two different people. Research this and see for yourself.

  • John Boutwell March 15, 2019, 10:42 am

    So this special needs kid kills his mom and goes on a killing spree and it’s the gun manufacturer’s fault?
    Bullshit!

  • Robert Davis March 15, 2019, 9:46 am

    This is all about a society with irrational fear due to lack of understanding of guns. The only way to combat it through education, familiarization and getting those with no experience engaged with firearms.

  • TexDan March 15, 2019, 9:16 am

    Just need to have another State’s Supreme Court rule that the lawsuit cannot go forward. Piss on Connecticut and especially their court system. Then the two States can fight it out on the field of honor as it were.

  • Randy Locher March 15, 2019, 9:07 am

    If the People let this happen and continue to elect these Demons into public office, then the Richly Deserve what they get. To hold an inantiment object responsible for the murders is Mentally Ill. If this is allowed then anyone who ever loss someone due to a Drunk driver must be allowed to sue the car maker, the Bar they were at, Beer maker and the Bartender, anyone who loss someone due to them hanging themselves must be allowed to sue the maker of the rope, belt or whatever object they used to hang themseleves, anyone who ever loss someone due to tripping and falling down should be allowed to sue the shoe/boot maker, not to mention if they tripped on a rug. Where the Hell will it end. These Judges and Lawyers need to be immediately put into a Mental Institution. Start putting the blame at the feet of the one who commited the crime. WE Must not let these Idiots over take us. We Must hold the line in defense of thi country and ourselves. If we don’t what kind of Country do we leave behind to our Children, Grandchildren and the generations that follow??

  • John Oden March 15, 2019, 8:16 am

    Left wing response – blame inanimate objects for wrong doing. They never level blame where it belongs with the individual doing the deed. Much easier – almost like sending a text instead talking directly with someone. A cowards way out.

  • robert March 15, 2019, 8:10 am

    Soooo… If someone runs into me while they are texting or drunk or high, can I sue their car manufacturer? This will open an entirely new can of worms. Honda has much deeper pockets than does Remington.

  • Rob March 15, 2019, 7:33 am

    These far left anti-gunners are a plague in this country. If they hate guns; they should move to a country that has already banned guns. Dont f’ with our guns in America.

    • No1hunter March 16, 2019, 12:19 pm

      “they should move to a country that has already banned guns.”

      Yes, like New Zealand. Oops, guess it didn’t work there either! Sad these simple-minded liberal minion can’t figure out if some dirt bag wants to to kill, they will find a way to do it. Even when the tool of choice is completely banned!

  • Jack leone March 15, 2019, 7:03 am

    Why do you not sue Hollywood?? they make action movies that sensationalize so called scary black rifles & they make killing look easy,and their hero’s show no remorse for loss of human life!!

    Hey it is just as absurd an idea as suing Bushmaster!! I doubt a simple commercial made the shooter decide to kill, more likely watching Hollywood movies!! so therefore the Hollywood liberals are at fault!!

  • John Weber March 15, 2019, 6:43 am

    Fucking Democrats!!!!!

  • Daniel Slocum March 15, 2019, 6:16 am

    This is just one more example of what I call “progressive creep” that has befallen local and state legislative bodies over the last several decades. Those among us who’s mission it is to stand watch over our liberties and sound the alarm when they are threatened, in many cases are aging and will soon be passing on; and we have perhaps not been as diligent in providing for a new generation of freedom loving citizens to take our places on the ramparts. Though the situation is slowly improving in some states and localities, we Americans must remain ever vigilant against the insidious and steady theft of our freedoms by those who wish to control us for their collectivist purposes; often, the over-educated, wealthy but morally deficient elitists who seek to advance their own interests and increase their control over society at the expense of the rest of us “common folks” in “fly-over country.”

    Rather than bemoan this setback to our continuing advance toward responsible exercise of our Constitutionally mandated, God given rights, let us resolve to increase our efforts to bring this basic truth before our fellow citizens: That in the end only an informed and committed and actively engaged citizenry can guarantee the continued existence of those freedoms written down by or nation’s creators in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. So vote; write, call or visit your elected representatives at both local, state and national levels; right pieces like this in your local papers; talk to your friends and neighbors; contribute to those individuals and groups who’ve shown their continued dedication to securing all the rights and protections our nation provides to all its citizens. Keep working; keep plugging away, no matter how difficult it might seem. For as Benjamin Franklin once admonished us, “Either we all hang together, or assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” Let’s not give these anti-liberty forces any more rope.

  • Daniel Slocum March 15, 2019, 5:44 am

    This is the result of decades of “progressive creep” in state and local legislative bodies. It’s beginning to turn around in some areas as more conservative judges are appointed at the local and appellate levels, but there is a long way to go. This is just one more example of the adage that “elections have consequences. Think about that, long and hard, the next time you go to the polls. Because if we as a nation lose the protections put forth in the 2nd Amendment, it will not be long before the collectivist elite steal the rest of the Constitution out from under our noses. At that point, freedom loving citizens will have but two choices left to them; neither of which is particularly palatable, but one of which may become absolutely inevitable if we are to retain or are forced to regain our freedom.

  • Steven Kile March 15, 2019, 4:23 am

    The solution is simple. All firearms manufacturers need to quit selling guns to any Connecticut State Agency.

  • Pat March 15, 2019, 4:16 am

    It is legislation through litigation. Can’t get rid of the 2nd ammendment so we’ll bankrupt the industry with endless frivolous lawsuits. What else is new with democrats? This is what caused Charter Arms to go under and exactly why the PLCAA was created. I would say I’d feel bad for the families but I’m sick and tired of antics from the left. They’ve over stayed their welcome too many times and I for one have had it and will no longer remain civil or nice towards them since they abandoned that courtesy towards us long ago. The firearm was compliant with all federal and state laws and functioned exactly the way it was intended. It went bang when the trigger was pulled. It was legally sold to a distributor who legally sold it to a dealer who legally sold it to Mrs Lanza who was killed and it was stolen from. Are we going to start suing car companies that unrealistically depict their cars in action in commercials which is all the fucking time for the actions of negligent drivers? How about breweries and distilleries for drunk drivers? How about politicians that shield and enable illegal immigrants with their sanctuary policies?

  • Robert Smith March 14, 2019, 11:50 pm

    Advertising had nothing to do with Adam Lanza’s use of a Bushmaster. The gun was purchased by and belonged to his mother, Susan Lanza. Adam Lanza sole it after murdering his own mother. Like most crime guns, it was used based on availability, nothing more.

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