The Supreme Court has ruled to allow a lawsuit against gunmaker Remington Arms to move forward.
The court order lets a survivor and relatives of nine victims of the Sandy Hook massacre to pursue their claims.
The lawsuit claims that Remington Arms shouldn’t have sold a weapon as dangerous as the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle that gunman Adam Lanza used to kill 20 first-graders and six educators. The suit also argues that the company targeted younger, at-risk males in marketing and product placement in violent video games.
The lawsuit was first filed in December 2014 and has survived many legal twists and turns since then. Although the lawsuit originally focused on a claim of negligent entrustment, the case now centers around how Remington marketed the gun.
David Wheeler, whose 6-year-old son was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting, said that the lawsuit is about responsibility. He recalled one of Remington’s ads for a gun that had the taglines, “Consider your man card reissued.”
“What kind of society allows manhood to be defined in this way?” he asked.
Neil Heslin, whose son also died in the shooting, agreed that Remington should take responsibility.
“I support the Second Amendment and the right to own firearms and guns, but on the other hand there’s reckless advertising and marketing,” he said. “There should be accountability and responsibility for that.”
The Sandy Hook families said Remington “published promotional materials that promised ‘military-proven performance’ for a ‘mission-adaptable’ shooter in need of the ‘ultimate combat weapons system.’”
The families also claim that the company fostered a “lone gunman” narrative as it promoted the Bushmaster, citing an ad that proclaimed, “Forces of opposition, bow down. You are single-handedly outnumbered.”
The families’ lawyer, Joshua Koskoff, said the next step will be the discovery phase.
“The families are just universally happy with this result,” he said. “They have wanted nothing more out of this case than to shed light on the conduct of the manufacturer of the weapon that was the source of taking the lives of their loved ones.”
Not everyone agrees with the Supreme Court’s decision, however, including the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
“Nothing in Remington’s advertising of these products connotes or encourages the illegal or negligent misuse of firearms,” the group said in a statement. “We continue to feel sympathy toward the Sandy Hook victims, as NSSF is headquartered in Newtown, but Adam Lanza alone is responsible for his heinous actions.”