Sandy Hook Gun Fight Draws GOP to High Court

(CN) – The National Rifle Association, 10 states and nearly two dozen members of Congress have joined a U.S. Supreme Court battle over how Remington Arms marketed the Bushmaster assault rifle used in the Sandy Hook shooting.

During a 2013 hearing at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Conn., firearms training unit Detective Barbara J. Mattson, of the Connecticut State Police, holds a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, the same make and model used by Adam Lanza in the 2012 Sandy Hook School shooting. A divided Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that gun maker Remington can be sued over how it marketed the Bushmaster rifle used in the massacre. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

Remington petitioned the justices for a reversal after the Connecticut Supreme Court advanced the underlying suit in March.

While families of the 20 first graders and six educators killed at Sandy Hook say  that Remington marketed XM15-E2S weapons to civilians for criminal purposes, Remington says its conduct is shielded by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2005.

Congress passed the law 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,” Remington argued in its August petition for certiorari.

The National Rifle Association made similar arguments in a Sept. 3 amicus brief signed by John Parker Sweeney of the law firm Bradley Arant.

“If the lower court’s opinion stands, firearm manufacturers and sellers will inevitably suffer economically (through verdicts and litigation expenses), potentially driving them out of the firearm business if not bankrupting them outright,” the brief states.

Sweeney says this in turn will leave “law-abiding citizens … unable to exercise their right to keep and bear arms because they will have nowhere to acquire those arms.”

Essentially, “the Second Amendment right would be meaningless if Americans cannot acquire firearms because of liability imposed upon the firearm industry for the criminal misuse of firearms by third parties,” the brief continues.

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