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HARTFORD – The Connecticut Supreme Court announced November 14 as the first court date in the appeal filed by the families of nine Sandy Hook victims and one survivor in their case against the sellers of the AR-15 used in the 2012 Newtown shooting, according to a release issued by a representative for the families.
In 2016, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case just two weeks after the families filed their appeal, allowing the lawsuit to bypass the Appellate Court and proceed directly to the state’s highest court. The hearing comes exactly one month before the five-year anniversary of the massacre.
The suit alleges that the AR-15 assault weapon used in the massacre is a military killing machine designed specifically to inflict mass carnage on a battlefield, is not appropriate for civilian use and that Remington and others were therefore negligent in entrusting the weapon to the public as they did, according to the release from the national PR firm BelinRosen.
The suit further alleges that the gun companies violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) in aggressively and unethically marketing the AR-15 for civilian use. The families have argued that the lower court erred in dismissing the lawsuit.
“We look forward to making our case to the state’s highest court,” said Josh Koskoff of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, the families’ attorney. “We firmly and steadfastly believe in the merits of our claims and in the rights of these families to get the answers that they deserve.”
In filing their appeal, the families describe the profound effect of the shooting on Connecticut:
“The loss of 20 first-graders and six educators would shake any community to its core. Ours had to grapple with the manner in which those lives were lost. Children and teachers were gunned down in classrooms and hallways with a weapon that was designed for our armed forces and engineered to deliver maximum carnage. The assault was so rapid that no police force on earth could have been expected to stop it. Fifty-pound bodies were riddled with five, 11, even 13 bullets. This is not sensationalism. It is the reality the defendants created when they chose to sell a weapon of war and aggressively market its assaultive capabilities. Ten families who paid the price for those choices seek accountability through Connecticut common and statutory law. It is only appropriate that Connecticut’s highest court decide whether these families have the right to proceed.”
“This case raises critical questions about rationality 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,” said Katie Mesner-Hage, also of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder. “The state’s Supreme Court is best positioned to decide those questions.”
In October, the Connecticut Supreme Court also granted the families’ motion for an en banc hearing, meaning that seven justices will hear arguments on November 14 and consider the appeal, the release states. The families are appealing the decision of a Bridgeport Superior Court judge to strike the case.
As the families’ case makes clear, the AR-15 is a killing machine designed as a military weapon to inflict mass carnage. It can unleash 30 rounds in under 10 seconds and can penetrate body armor. It has exceptional muzzle velocity, making each hit lethal, and its large capacity magazines allow for rapid-fire, prolonged assaults.
It was built for warfare and has been the military’s weapon of choice for 50 years because of its efficiency as a mass casualty weapon. When entrusted to the military, the AR-15 requires more than 100 hours of training and is subject to strict protocols on safety and storage.
Still, the weapon’s sellers, including Remington, made a calculated decision to aggressively market and sell the AR-15 to the public, knowing that the necessary structure and oversight found in the military was utterly lacking, the release states. That carefully executed marketing campaign, which continues today, has made the AR-15 the weapon of choice for mass murderers. It has been used in massacres at San Bernardino, Aurora and several other preventable tragedies.