Connecticut Supremes Take Up Sandy Hook Case

HARTFORD, Conn. (CN) – Families touched by the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School voiced relief Thursday that the Connecticut Supreme Court will hear an appeal against the company that made the killer’s machine gun.

“We are grateful that the Connecticut Supreme Court will hear our case immediately,” said Nicole Hockley, whose son, Dylan, was killed in the Newtown shooting. “Our goal is and always has been to help prevent the next Sandy Hook, and today is an important step in that direction.”

Families like Hockley’s will mark the fourth anniversary of the Dec. 14 rampage that left 20 children and six educators dead.

Adam Lanza carried out the shooting with his mother’s Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle, a model of the AR-15.

He used a Glock 20SF to kill himself as police arrived. A few miles away from the school, police found Lanza’s mother at the home she and her son shared, shot to death in her bed.

One survivor and nine victims’ families sought damages from gunmakers, saying Bushmaster and Remington Arms “know that civilians are unfit to operate AR-15s, and yet continue selling the Bushmaster XM15-E2S to the civilian market, disregarding the unreasonable risks that the weapon poses.”

They vowed to appeal when a Superior Court judge dismissed the case in October, finding that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which was passed by Congress in 2005, shields gunmakers from liability when their firearms are used in crimes.

On Tuesday, the appeal was transferred to the Connecticut Supreme Court pursuant to Section 65-1 of the Connecticut Practice Book.

Katie Mesner-Hage, an attorney for the families with Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, called the Supreme Court “best positioned” to decide the issues at play.

“This case raises critical questions about reasonableness and accountability in an era where combat rifles are deliberately marketed as weapons of war, no matter how many schools are transformed into battlefields as a result,” Mesner-Hage said.

Co-counsel Josh Koskoff applauded the move as well.

“Time and again our Supreme Court has recognized the importance of allowing litigants their day in court and the indispensable role of a jury as arbiters of justice,” Koskoff said. “That is all these families have ever asked for.”

Jonathan Whitcomb, an attorney for Remington Arms, and Christopher Renzulli, an attorney for firearms distributor Camfour, have not returned requests for comment.

Riverview Gun Sales Inc., the gun shop where Lanza’s mother bought the AR-15, is also named as a defendant.

Lanza’s shooting had been the second-deadliest shooting at the time, after the 2007 rampage at Virginia Tech, which took 32 lives, not including the gunman’s.

The killing of 49 clubgoers at Pulse Orlando eclipsed this record on June 12, 2016.