This week the families of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut will be in Hartford, as their lawsuit against weapon manufacturer Remington progresses to the state Supreme Court. Their lawyers will argue that the companies that manufactured and sold the assault rifle used by the gunman in the shooting share responsibility for the deaths of the 26 victims, including 20 children.
This is the furthest any case of its kind has managed to get in seeking justice from those who make and sell military-style weapons to civilians.
According to the New York Times, the plaintiffs’ lawyers believe they can circumvent a 2005 federal law that protects gun companies from litigation, so long as they can get the court this week to allow for a jury trial. If they succeed in this, the hope is that the subsequent discovery process will produce the companies’ internal communications, which could then reveal damaging information that can be used against the defendants in the courtroom.
Both sides of the gun control debate have buried the court with amicus briefs, which are legal documents filed by non-litigants (those not suing or being sued), yet have a strong interest in the case. The National Rifle Association argues in their brief that allowing the case to move forward threatens to “eviscerate” the gun companies’ legal protections.
After years of dismissals and appeals in lower courts, the Supreme Court hearing arrives just before the five-year anniversary of the December 14 Sandy Hook shooting, and just a handful of weeks since the Las Vegas, Nevada and Sutherland Spring, Texas mass shootings. While this may bolster the lawyers’ arguments, and strengthen support for the plaintiffs’ case against gun manufacturers and sellers, there is sill at least one major legal hurdle to overcome.
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