Newtown families say AR-15 maker is “negligent” in lawsuit
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Parents of some of the children who died in the Sandy Hook shooting were in court Monday trying a new approach to holding the maker of the gun liable.
Congress shielded gun makers from most lawsuits except when a gun is sold negligently to someone who is a high risk. The parents argue the AR-15 assault rifle is so inherently dangerous that selling it to anyone is negligent.
“The AR-15 is the most dangerous, most lethal … The AR-15 worked exactly as it was designed to do,” said Joshua Koskoff, who represents ten Newtown families suing Remington, the manufacturer of the AR-15 used to kill 20 children and six adults three and a half years ago.
The families claim Remington and its distributor were “negligent” in allowing the gun to get into the hands of a mentally ill gunman. Defense lawyer Peter Berry says that’s not true.
“Nancy Lanza never visited Sandy Hook Elementary School with a firearm. It was her son who did.”
It’s the latest challenge to the 2005 federal law that shields the gun industry from most lawsuits over the criminal use of firearms.
But the Newtown families say the way the military-style weapon is marketed is the problem. They point to advertisements that use phrases like “consider your man card reissued.”
Mark and Jackie Barden lost their 7-year-old Daniel at Sandy Hook. “They are not advertising these weapons for hunting, they are not advertising these weapons for protection,” Jackie said.
A week after another gunman used a similar high-capacity military-style rifle to kill 49 in an Orlando club, Georgetown law professor Heidi Feldman says the stakes are high in this case.
“The gun industry is, I believe, terribly afraid of being the next cigarette manufacturer,” Feldman said.
“This is what we need to do to make sure this stops,” said Jackie Barden of the lawsuit. “You know Daniel deserved to live a full life.”
This is the first lawsuit of its kind to get this far through the legal system in what will continue to be an uphill battle. The judge has until October to decide if this case will go to trial.