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.”
 


France’s Macron forced to curb his ambitions for Europe

Updated 19 May 2019
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France’s Macron forced to curb his ambitions for Europe

  • His pro-Europe vision has collided with populists and national interests across the continent
  • In his country, his political vision has given rise to France’s raucous yellow vest uprising over his government’s pro-business policies

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron sees himself as Europe’s savior and next week’s European Parliament elections as a make-or-break moment for the beleaguered European Union.
But Macron is no longer the fresh-faced force who marched into a surprising presidential victory to the rousing EU anthem two years ago. His pro-Europe vision has collided with populists and national interests across the continent. And at home, his political vision has given rise to France’s raucous yellow vest uprising over his government’s pro-business policies.
Macron wanted the May 23-26 European Parliament elections to be the key moment that he could push his ambitions for a stronger Europe — but instead, nationalists and populists who criticized the 28-nation bloc could achieve unprecedented success.
They argue that EU leaders have failed to manage migration into the continent and remain out of touch with ordinary workers’ concerns.
“We have a crisis of the European Union. This is a matter of fact. Everywhere in Europe, when you look at the past five to six years, in our country but in a lot of countries, all the extremes, extreme-rights, are increasing,” Macron said Thursday, making an unexpected appeal for European unity on the sidelines of a technology trade show.
“On currency, on digital, on climate action, we need more Europe,” he said. “I want the EU to be more protective of our borders regarding migration, terrorism and so on, but I think if you fragment Europe, there is no chance you have a stronger Europe.”
In person, the 41-year-old Macron comes across as strikingly, sincerely European. A political centrist, he’s at ease quoting Greek playwrights, German thinkers or British economists. France’s youngest president grew up with the EU and has been using the shared European euro currency his whole adult life, and sees it as Europe’s only chance to stay in the global economic game.
Macron has already visited 20 of the EU’s 28 countries in his two years in office, and while he acknowledges the EU’s problems, he wants to fix the bloc — not disassemble it.
Macron won the 2017 presidential election over France’s far-right, anti-immigration party leader Marine Le Pen on a pledge to make Europe stronger to face global competition against the Unites States and China. Since then, he’s had to make compromises with other EU leaders — and clashed with some nations where populist parties govern, from Poland to neighboring Italy.
Four months after his election, Macron outlined his vision for Europe in a sweeping speech at Paris’ Sorbonne university, calling for a joint EU budget, shared military forces and harmonized taxes.
But with Brexit looming and nationalism rising, Macron has had to reconsider his ambitions. He called his political tactics with other EU leaders a “productive confrontation.”
“In Europe, what is expected from France is to clearly say what it wants, its goals, its ambitions, and then be able to build a compromise with Germany to move forward” with other European countries, Macron said last week.
Macron stressed that despite her initial reluctance, German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed last year to create a eurozone budget they hope will boost investment and provide a safety mechanism for the 19 nations using the euro currency.
In March, Macron sought to draw support for a Europe of “freedom, protection and progress” with a written call to voters in 28 countries to reject nationalist parties that “offer nothing.”
And he proposed to define a roadmap for the EU by the end of this year in a discussion with all member nations and a panel of European citizens.
“There will be disagreement, but is it better to have a static Europe or a Europe that advances, sometimes at different paces, and that is open to all?” he asked.
France and Germany are the two heavyweights in Europe, and Macron can also count on cooperation from pro-European governments of Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and others.
He has made a point, however, of not yet visiting Hungary or Poland, two nations led by populist leaders whom Macron accused last year of “lying” to their people about the EU.
France has also been entangled in a serious diplomatic crisis with Italy over migration into Europe. Italy’s anti-migrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has repeatedly criticized Macron and is backing his rival Le Pen’s National Rally party in the election this week that aims to fill the European parliament’s 751 seats.
Macron has little chance to repeat Europe-wide what he did in France: rip up the political map by building a powerful centrist movement that weakened the traditional left and right.
The campaign for Macron’s Republic on the Move party is being led by former European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau under a banner called “Renaissance.” The party wants to associate with the pro-market ALDE alliance to create new centrist group at the European Parliament.
But across the continent, the centrists are not expected to come out remotely on top but rank third or even lower behind the parliament’s traditional two biggest groups, the right-wing European People’s Party and the left-wing Socialists and Democrats group.
Even at home, Macron is far from certain of being able to claim victory in the European vote. Polls suggest his party will be among France’s top two vote-getters in the election, which takes place in France on May 26.
But its main rival, the far-right National Rally party, is determined to take revenge on Macron beating Le Pen so decisively in 2017.
Macron’s political opponents across the spectrum are calling on French voters to seize the European vote to reject his government’s policies.
While he won 64% of the presidential vote in 2017, French polls show that Macron’s popularity has been around half that for the past year.
It reached record lows when France’s yellow vest movement broke out last fall, demanding relief from high taxes and stagnant wages for French workers, then slightly rose as extensive violence during yellow vest protests, especially in Paris, dampened support for the movement’s cause.
Still, the yellow vests are not going away. New protests against Macron and his government are planned for the EU election day.