A gun company lawyer, after acknowledging the assault rifle used in the Sandy Hook slaughter was aggressively marketed, insisted the manufacturer bore no blame for the 26 murders.
Remington Arms attorney James Vogts, arguing Tuesday before the Connecticut Supreme Court, was asked about a Bushmaster AR-15 sales pitch warning forces of opposition, bow down.
Obviously, all products manufacturers are trying to sell to the market, Vogts told the panel. The purpose is to sell products. Emotional ads are commercial speech. They are under First Amendment protection.
But lawyer John Koskoff, representing the families of nine murder victims and one survivor of the Dec. 14, 2012, rampage attack, said Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza was Remington Arms target audience.
They had been courting him for years, said Koskoff. It wasnt just that they marketed the weapon looking for people with the characteristics of Adam Lanza. Its that Adam Lanza heard the message, and was driven specifically to the Bushmaster … for this combat mission.
Lanza used the AR-15 to fire 154 bullets in about five minutes, killing 20 first-grade students and six staffers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Ian Hockley, whose son Dylan was among the slain schoolkids, accused Bushmaster of marketing a battlefield weapon to a civilian market without regard for the consequences.
They could not care less what happens to their guns once the cash is in the bank, showing utter disregard for the lives this weapon takes and the families it destroys, said Hockley.
The hearing was expected to resume Wednesday. No ruling was anticipated for several months in a case that drew national attention from groups on either side of the gun control debate.
Koskoff mentioned advertising for the Bushmaster describing the weapon as the uncompromising choice that left a shooters targets single-handedly outnumbered.
Mass shooters, including the killer in a Sutherland Spring, Tex., church, used similar weapons in their attack.
The plaintiffs charge the AR-15, a particularly lethal weapon designed for use by the military, was wrongly marketed and sold to the general public.
North Carolina-based Remington argued successfully in previous hearings that the guns are legal and the company is protected by the 2005 federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
The case brought by the Newtown group was dismissed 13 months ago by a lower Connecticut court that agreed with Remingtons argument.
The legislation generally protects weapons companies from liability for criminal use of their guns.
What happened in that school that morning was horrific, said Vogts. It was a tragedy that will not be forgotten … Under the law, under federal law, under Connecticut law, the manufacturer of the product used by the criminal are not responsible for his crimes.