Nearly five years ago, a young man wielding a weapon of war walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and murdered 20 first graders. In Connecticuts highest court Tuesday, families of Newtowns lost children waged a brave legal battle to prevent more innocents from being slaughtered.
They seek to hold the gunmaker, Remington Arms, partly accountable for flooding the market with Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifles and strategically targeting impressionable young men like Adam Lanza as users of its designed-to-be-lethal product.
Remington says it has an all-purpose shield that protect it from such claims: a federal law that prohibits lawsuits against gun makers.
But that law outlines six exemptions. One is known as negligent entrustment when the manufacturer has good reason to foresee that selling their product might hurt or kill someone.
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Another says that the federal law doesnt apply when a gunmaker violates state laws in the course of selling a firearm.
The Newtown families make a powerful argument that under these exceptions, their case must be allowed to proceed.
Connecticuts Unfair Trade Practices Act, a mirror of laws in many other states, bars unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce.
In other words, you cant market industrial-grade chlorine as a childrens toothpaste.
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The fact is, Remington deliberately peddled its assault weapon a military-grade killing machine not as hunting rifle. Not as a tool of self-defense.
It pushed it to civilians, young men in particular, by telling them that wielding the Bushmaster would give them the ability to dominate others.
FORCES OF OPPOSITION, BOW DOWN. YOU ARE SINGLE-HANDEDLY OUTNUMBERED, said one ad, which labeled the firearm The ultimate military combat weapons system.
CONSIDER YOUR MAN CARD REISSUED, said another.
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In the videogame Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 which turns killing into sport for teenagers the hero wields a Remington weapon, a strong sign that the company paid to place its product there.
Seven judges will now decide not whether the Newtown families win a final judgment, but simply whether they can take their case to trial and initiating the vital process of discovering evidence.
They must say yes.