Court rules gunmaker Remington can be sued over US massacre

In this Jan. 28, 2013, file photo, 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, during a hearing at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Connecticut. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)
Updated 15 March 2019
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Court rules gunmaker Remington can be sued over US massacre

  • The attack just before Christmas in 2012 left 20 school children and six staffers dead
  • The gunman used a Remington-made Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle in the attack

NEW YORK: Connecticut’s supreme court ruled Thursday that US gunmaker Remington can be sued over the 2012 massacre at the Sandy Hook elementary school in which one of its weapons was used.
The attack just before Christmas left 20 school children and six staffers dead.
The 4-3 ruling by the state court raised hopes among the victims’ families of punishing the marketers of the powerful Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle used by the shooter, Adam Lanza.
It also sets a precedent that could lead to more lawsuits against manufacturers whose guns are used in mass shootings.
The ruling on Thursday overturned a lower court’s judgment rejecting the lawsuit, which charged that Remington Outdoor Co., arms distributor Camfour, and the Connecticut store which sold the gun used in the massacre could be held liable.
Lanza was a 20-year-old with known developmental disabilities who lived at home with his mother when he carried out the attack.
His mother, a gun enthusiast, had bought him the AR-15-style Bushmaster XM15-E2S semi-automatic rifle more than two years before the shooting. Lanza murdered his mother before assaulting the school, and killed himself afterward.
The lawsuit alleged that Remington and the other two defendants are culpable because they knowingly marketed a military grade weapon that is “grossly unsuited” for civilian use yet had become the gun most used in mass shootings.
A Washington Post database says there have been 162 mass shootings in the United States since 1966, but many of the deadliest incidents have occurred in the past few years.
The plaintiffs alleged that the gun was marketed immorally and unscrupulously, sold on its war-fighting capabilities to civilians who would never experience combat.
That included, they alleged, popularizing the AR-15 in combat and mass shooting-type situations through the type of violent video games that Lanza was known to play.
They specifically cited Remington’s marketing of high-capacity magazines, which have only combat utility, for use with the gun.
They noted that video games feature shooters using multiple high capacity magazines, and that Lanza attacked the school with ten 30-round magazines.
“Prior to December 14, 2012, assault rifles like the Bushmaster XM15-E2S had been used to kill in department stores and fast food chains, at offices and homecoming parties, on courthouse steps, and in schools,” the suit said.
“Despite the unreasonable risks associated with selling assault rifles under these circumstances, defendants continued to market, promote and sell AR-15s to consumers.”
The court ruled that, even though the US Congress passed a law in 2005 that explicitly immunized gunmakers when their products are used in crimes, Remington could still be sued on the grounds that its marketing violated Connecticut’s unfair trade practice laws.
Congress did not seek to fully protect gunmakers and dealers from practices that promote criminal conduct, the judges said in their ruling.
Hence, they said, “it falls to a jury to decide whether the promotional schemes alleged in the present case rise to the level of illegal trade practices and whether fault for the tragedy can be laid at their feet.”
David Wheeler, whose son Ben was one of the Sandy Hook victims, said “there’s a reason why this particular consumer product is the one that is used by people who want to inflict the most damage.”
There have been examples, “time and time again,” he said.
Joshua Koskoff, a lawyer who represented families at an earlier hearing, said the ruling shows that nobody is above the law — “even a gun company that is powerful... that’s politically connected.”
The group Connecticut Against Gun Violence said the state supreme court decision “will force the companies to reveal internal communications that they have fought to keep out of the public eye.”
 


New Zealanders give up guns after massacre, but some face blowback

A man looks at firearms on display at Gun City gunshop in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 19, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 9 min 40 sec ago
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New Zealanders give up guns after massacre, but some face blowback

  • Police said they did not have data available on the number of weapons handed in since Friday
CHRISCHURCH, New Zealand: New Zealanders have begun handing in weapons in response to government appeals following the Christchurch massacre, but the gesture has put some squarely in the social media firing line.
John Hart, a farmer in the North Island district of Masterton, decided to give his semi-automatic rifle to police after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday plans to tighten gun laws in light of the slaughter Friday of 50 Muslim worshippers.
She also encouraged owners to surrender unnecessary firearms after it emerged that the accused mosque attacker, Australia white nationalist Brenton Tarrant, had legally acquired the guns he used in the rampage.
Hart said it was an easy decision for him to hand in his semi-automatic and tweeted that “on the farm they are a useful tool in some circumstances, but my convenience doesn’t outweigh the risk of misuse. We don’t need these in our country.”
The tweet drew a barrage of derogatory messages to his Facebook account — most apparently from the US, where the pro-gun lobby is powerful and vociferous.
Hart deleted the messages but posted online: “A warm kia ora to all my new American Facebook friends.”
“I’m not familiar with your local customs, but I assume ‘Cuck’ is a traditional greeting,” he said of the insult, short for “cuckold’, frequently used by far-right extremists.
Hart told AFP many of the messages made inaccurate references to his sexuality.
“It was very sudden. It started about the time the US east coast was waking up. There seemed to have been a rallying call,” he said.
A more mild message, from Kaden Heaney asked: “What’s the point of giving up yalls personal guns? Yall do realize what happens to societies that give up their guns right? Evil people will get their hands on guns, knives, bombs or whatever they want to kill no matter what the intentions of good people are. Who will protect you.”
Christopher @offwhiteblogger said: “You did the right thing then; you clearly aren’t responsible enough to own a firearm.”
Police said they did not have data available on the number of weapons handed in since Friday.
But they issued a statement saying that “due to heightened security and the current environment, we would ask that people please call us first before attempting to surrender a firearm.”
A person calling himself Blackstone tweeted: “this is one of the easiest decisions I have ever made. Have owned a firearm for 31 years ... Once I realized that, the only way I could go forward with a clear conscience was to hand it into the police for destruction.”
Ardern has said that details of the government’s proposed law changes on gun ownership will be announced by next week, but she indicated that gun buybacks and a ban on some semi-automatic rifles were under consideration.
“As the Cabinet, we were absolutely unified and very clear: the terror attack in Christchurch on Friday was the worst act of terrorism on our shores, it was in fact one of the worst globally in recent times, it has exposed a range of weaknesses in New Zealand’s gun laws,” she said.
New Zealand police, meanwhile, were investigating a suspicious fire at a gun club in the far north of the country, but were not immediately linking it to the current gun debate.
There had also been a fire at the same club a year ago.