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Sandy Hook parents can now sue Remington for deaths of their children, says Supreme Court

The ruling potentially opens a door for other mass shooting victims to seek some form of justice for the senseless violence they had to endure.

Sandy Hook parents can now sue Remington for deaths of their children, says Supreme Court

Victims of the rising gun violence epidemic in the country were granted a much-needed win yesterday when the Supreme Court refused to shield gun manufacturer Remington Arms from a lawsuit filed by families of the Sandy Hook school massacre victims. While lawmakers continue to turn a blind eye towards the call for stricter gun laws in America, Tuesday's ruling is a welcome development for those who believe gun makers and sellers need to be held at least partly accountable for the deadly consequences of their products. The decision potentially opens a door for other mass shooting victims to seek some form of justice for the senseless violence they had to endure.


According to a report by NPR, thanks to a 2005 federal law—namely the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act—gun manufacturers and dealers have been able to avoid prosecution over crimes committed with their products, despite mass shooting incidents rising at a worrying rate. Remington Arms Co. cited this very law when appealing to the Supreme Court to block the lawsuit against them, arguing that the case "presents a nationally important question" about U.S. gun laws and how they are interpreted.



The case against Remington Arms—first filed in December 2014 by relatives of nine victims who died and a survivor of the shooting—has gone through a number of legal twists and turns over the years, even surviving persistent attempts by the gun lobby to squash it all together. Although it initially centered on a claim of negligent entrustment, according to CNN, it was a different approach that finally did the trick. It now focuses on how Remington Arms marketed the AR-15-style Bushmaster used in the Connecticut elementary school shooting, criticizing the militaristic and hypermasculine tone of the advertisement.



The plaintiffs claim Remington Arms "published promotional materials that promised 'military-proven performance' for a 'mission-adaptable' shooter in need of the 'ultimate combat weapons system,'" and that it fostered a "lone gunman" narrative. The Sandy Hook families called the court's attention to an ad that proclaimed "Forces of opposition, bow down. You are single-handedly outnumbered," stating that it was no accident that the troubled 20-year-old gunman chose this particular weapon.



Speaking to NPR earlier this year, one of the plaintiffs in the case, David Wheeler—who lost his 6-year-old son Ben in the attack—said that to him the lawsuit is about responsibility. Recalling the tagline "Consider your man card reissued" used in one of Remington's ads for a gun, he asked, "What kind of society allows manhood to be defined in this way?" 20 first-graders and six educators lost their lives in the attack on December 14, 2012, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza walked into the Newtown, Connecticut school and opened fire. In a statement following the Supreme Court's ruling in their favor, the victims' families expressed gratitude to the court for blocking Remington's "latest attempt to avoid accountability."



"The families are grateful that the Supreme Court... denied Remington’s latest attempt to avoid accountability. We are ready to resume discovery and proceed towards trial in order to shed light on Remington's profit-driven strategy to expand the AR-15 market and court high-risk users at the expense of Americans' safety," said Joshua Koskoff, a lawyer for the families, as per a report by The Washington Post. While Tuesday's ruling was an undeniable victory for these families, they still have to go to trial and convince a jury that Remington is liable for the deaths of their loved ones.


However, bringing the case to trial could potentially give them access to company documents and internal communications which would provide invaluable insight into how the gun industry works. This information — that has long been fiercely guarded by the industry—would essentially provide a road map for all the victims of gun violence in the country looking to seek answers and justice for their ordeal.



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