On November 12, the United States Supreme Court denied a petition from Remington Arms to block a lawsuit by families of victims of the Sandy Hook shooting of 2012. The gun manufacturer’s AR-15-style rifle was used to kill 20 first-graders and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut.
The Sandy Hook lawsuit claimed that Remington Arms “knowingly marketed and promoted the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle for use in assaults against human beings.” The lawsuit, which the court has allowed to proceed, was first filed in December of 2014.
The Exception of the PLCAA
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) passed in October of 2005 was implemented “to prohibit civil liability actions from being brought… against manufacturers… for damages… resulting from the misuse of their products by others.”
Although this law has protected gun manufacturers such as Remington Arms in the past, there is an exception. If any company “knowingly violates a state or federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing” of any of its products, a lawsuit can be filed against them if any harm resulted from the use of the product.
Donald Verrilli, the lawyer representing the Sandy Hook families, claimed that Remington’s advertisement “continued to exploit the fantasy of an all-conquering lone gunman.” One of the ads used to market the rifle read, “Forces of opposition, bow down. You are single-handedly outnumbered.”
Hope for the Victims’ Families
Earlier this year, the Connecticut Supreme Court gave families hope when it decided that Remington could be sued for how it marketed the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle. The court believed that the families were “entitled to have the opportunity to prove their wrongful marketing allegations.”
David Wheeler, whose 6-year-old son Ben was killed during the shooting, told NPR that the lawsuit that he and others submitted was about taking responsibility. During his conversation, he referenced one of Remington’s ads for a gun that read “Consider your man card reissued.”
“What kind of society allows manhood to be defined in this way?” Wheeler remarked. “If you are selling a product and promising dominance, masculine success… who do you think that kind of advertising is going to connect with the most?”
Back in 2016, Nicole Hockley, who lost her son Dylan during the attack said, “There were a lot of guns the shooter could have chosen from his arsenal and he chose the AR-15 because he knew it would kill as many people as possible as fast as possible.”