Gunmaker Asks Justices to Rule Against Sandy Hook Families

Officials stand outside of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 first-graders and six educators at the school on Dec. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

(CN) – Gun manufacturer Remington Arms asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to overturn a ruling from Connecticut’s high court allowing the company to be sued by one survivor and the families of nine victims killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

In a 46-page petition for a writ of certiorari, the North Carolina-based company argued that a 2005 federal law called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act shields firearm makers from liability in every circumstance when their products are used in acts of violence.

In a 4-3 ruling in May, the Connecticut Supreme Court opened the door for the families to sue the gunmaker based on marketing and advertising claims. The court refused to strike arguments regarding the marketing of the XM15-E2S weapon, a type of AR-15 semiautomatic gun that killed 20 first graders and six educators in 264 seconds.

“The regulation of advertising that threatens the public’s health, safety, and morals has long been considered a core exercise of the states’ police powers,” Justice Richard Palmer wrote for the majority. “Accordingly, on the basis of that limited theory, we conclude that the plaintiffs have pleaded allegations sufficient to survive a motion to strike and are entitled to have the opportunity to prove their wrongful marketing allegations.”

Remington lawyers Scott Keller and Stephanie Cagniart expressed their disagreement in their petition to the nation’s highest court.

“Congress enacted the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act to ensure that firearms – so central to American society that the Founders safeguarded their ownership and use in the Bill of Rights – would be regulated only through the democratic process rather than the vagaries of litigation,” the petition states.

Remington further argued that the case against it “is an archetypical example of the kind of lawsuit Congress sought to preempt, raising claims indistinguishable from those routinely asserted in the pre-PLCAA litigation that drove Congress to respond.”

Josh Koskoff, an attorney for the families, said the petition makes “no new or unexpected arguments.”

“Our state’s highest court has already ruled that the families deserve their day in court and we are confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will defer to that well-reasoned opinion,” he said.

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