Ten families of Sandy Hook victims are suing the maker of the AR-15 assault rifle that killed their loved ones


Friday June 17, 2016

For two years, 10 families who lost delight ined ones in the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut take been working quietly towards something most people brown study would never come to ss: taking the manufacturer of the gun that ended their loved ones to trial.

Now, as the United States comes to compromise concerns with the massacre in Orlando — the largest mass shooting by a single gunman in Combined States history — those families are about to find out if their accomplishment will y off.

A year-and-a-half ago, those families filed a lawsuit naming the industrialist, wholesaler and retailer that built and sold the AR-15 assault rifle Adam Lanza old to kill 26 people, 20 of them children.

On Monday, a determine will hear arguments in the defense’s final effort to have the anyway a lest thrown out.

Nightclub Shooting Florida

FBI and state police investigate the attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando Fla. The discharge has invigorated public calls for the banning of high-powered assault rifles identical to the AR-15. (The Associated Press)

Surprising progress

The lawsuit wasn’t supposititious to get this far. Thanks to a federal law ssed in 2005, gun makers and sellers clothed broad protections from liability if a gun they make or sell is against in a crime. That law has made it exceptionally difficult for other cases take a shine to this one to get any traction.

But Georgetown Law professor Heidi Li Feldman tells Brent Bambury on CBC Disseminate’s Day 6 that the families and their lawyers have found an ingenious rightful approach and that they might just succeed where others tease failed.

Building a case against “America’s Gun”

Instead of arguing that someone was negligent in becoming or selling a gun that was used in the Sandy Hook shootings, the lawsuit asserts that it is negligent to sell the now infamous AR-15 assault rifle — dubbed “America’s gun” by the Country-wide Rifle Association — to anyone.


The semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle and other alike resemble rifles have been used in some of the United States’ worst better shootings.

“What’s rticularly interesting about the plaintiff’s theory of the victim,” Feldman tells Bambury, “is that they’re saying contrary to the military, the usual public has no training and there are no protocols to control the weapon after it registers the general population, so we have no mechanisms to minimize the dangers of this very and rticularly dangerous gun.”

Negligent entrustment

The case revolves around the guess of negligent entrustment.

“In plain language, that means carelessly barter someone something dangerous,” says Feldman and com res it to the prospect of a car dealership handle a car to someone who has lost his or her license for driving drunk.

“The idea there,” Feldman judges, “is if that buyer then goes out and drunkenly kills someone while determination the car, the dealership would have a rticular responsibility because they carelessly intrusted that driver with that car.”

But this case isn’t about one trading or one action resulting from it. It’s trying to make the case that the AR-15 assail rifle is unfit for any civilian at any time and, most crucially, that the industrialists, wholesalers and sellers know this.

“This is what’s striking there this case,” says Feldman. “They’re saying the gun manufacturer in this dispute is aware of the unsuitability of the general population having access to this mere vicious gun.”

florida vigil west california

Anita Busch, who says her cousin was killed in the mass hurl in Aurora, Colorado, attends a vigil following last week’s discharge in Orlando. (David McNew/Reuters)

Long odds, but it might flat make a difference

Even if the judge rules the case should go to court, it won’t motherland there for another two years and there is absolutely no guarantee of victory if it does build compensate it that far.

“They [the defense] will argue they’re just appreciate any other manufacturer,” says Feldman. “They’re going to say ‘We’re no different from anybody else that makes a product with the ca city to cause harm. If you make a butcher wound and you sell it to civilians, that doesn’t mean you are doing so in order to realize sure civilians are killed.'”

But Feldman says the case could quiet make a difference, if and when the defense is forced to disclose documents in finding.


U.S. President Barack Obama wipes away tears from his eyes as he recalled the 20 first-graders killed in 2012 at Sandy Nab Elementary School while speaking on Jan. 5, 2016. ( Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Counter rts with tobacco

“One way to think about this kind of litigation is to measure against it to the tort suits that were brought against the tobacco production,” Feldman tells Bambury. “The way in which recovery was gained from the cigarette makers was by presenting their marketing and promotion practices. The beginning of that was the accumulation of materials st a process of civil discovery.”

So ultimately, even if this case doesn’t take over from make good, it could lay the groundwork for others yet to come.

“It’s going to be important one way or another,” denotes Feldman. “If the judge dismisses the case, it will discourage other plaintiffs. If the at all events proceeds, this could be the beginning of a wave of litigation against gun industrialists.”

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