A Connecticut Superior Court judge has denied gun companies’ motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the families of victims of the Sandy Hook massacre.
Judge Barbara Bellis’s decision that the civil case which alleges that the makers and sellers of the AR-15 gun used by shooter Adam Lanza in the 2012 school shooting can move forward is a huge victory for the plaintiffs, which include the family members of some of the 26 people killed during the attack.
In February, attorneys for Bushmaster Firearms, LLC, Remington, LLC and others argued that they should be granted immunity in the case under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act — a law they claim was designed to protect gun makers from this kind of civil liability lawsuit.
The plaintiffs in the case allege that the defendants “unethically, oppressively, immorally, and unscrupulously marketed and promoted the assaultive qualities and military uses of AR-15s to civilian purchasers.”
After shooting his mother with a handgun inside their Connecticut home on December 14, 2012, Lanza drove to Sandy Hook elementary and killed 20 first graders, and six school employees using a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle.
The plaintiffs in the case claim that the mother of the shooter, Nancy Lanza, purchased the gun with the intent of sharing it with her son. Lanza the used the AR-15 “designed for military use and engineered to deliver maximum carnage with extreme efficiency, to kill twenty-six people...in less than five minutes.”
“We are thrilled that the gun companies’ motion to dismiss was denied. The families look forward to continuing their fight in court,” said Josh Koskoff from Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, one of the lawyers representing the families.
The gun companies and members of families suing them did not immediately return requests for comment.
Speaking about the AR-15 at a February press conference, Nicole Hockley, whose 6-year-old son Dylan was killed in the shooting, 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."
Another plaintiff in the case, Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son Daniel was killed at Sandy Hook school, said at the press conference, "This is a weapon designed for the military that has ended up in the public and we want them to be held accountable."
The next status hearing in the case is April 19.
Michael Hayes is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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