BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Lawyers for the company that made the rifle used in the 2012 Newtown school massacre are expected to ask a Connecticut judge to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit filed by families of some of the victims.
Freedom Group, the Madison, North Carolina, parent company of AR-15 maker Bushmaster Firearms, says it’s protected by a 2005 federal law that shields gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products.
Jonathan Whitcomb, an attorney for Remington and Bushmaster, said the lawsuit should be dismissed, CBS2’s Lou Young reports.
“Congress has expressed its clear intention that these kinds of cases against firearm manufacturers shall not be brought and shall not proceed and I think the process by which that law was passed needs to be respected and it needs to be followed,” Whitcomb said.
A Bridgeport Superior Court judge heard arguments Monday afternoon.
The lawsuit by families of nine children and adults who died and a teacher who survived alleges the Bushmaster AR-15 is too dangerous to sell to the public. They say they’re suing under an exception to the 2005 law.
The families will argue that the AR-15 was designed for the military and that gun manufacturers knew the weapon wasn’t suitable for civilians when it was put on the open market, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.
“It’s about this gun and this type of marketing,” Mark Barden, father of Sandy Hook victim Daniel Barden, told CBS2. “The manufacturer is marketing to people like Adam Lanza and they know it.”
The families claim the gun manufacturer exploited the AR-15’s military value to young men with advertising like “the forces of opposition will bow down” to sell the firearm.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the families of the victims deserve their day in court.
“The manufacturers of these deadly weapons have to be held accountable,” Blumenthal said. “The federal law provides them right now with a complete impenetrable shield to accountability and they ought to be held accountable for producing weapons that have no purpose but to kill and maim innocent human beings.”
Gun manufacturers, however, argue the sole blame lies with the shooter, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported.
A decision on the case isn’t expected for several months, D’Auria reported.
In the past, nearly all cases against gun manufacturers to hold them accountable have been thrown out, D’Auria reported.
Bridgeport attorney Josh Koskoff said if allowed to proceed, the lawsuit will shed light on what he said is the covert world of gun sales, WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reported.
“The AR-15 is a military weapon. It’s not a machine gun, actually, but it functions equivalent to a machine gun in the sense that it’s a killing machine,” he said.
Koskoff said the AR-15 is used repeatedly in mass murders.
“Before Sandy Hook, it wasn’t theoretical that these weapons would be used for mass murder,” Koskoff said. “They were designed for mass murder.”
CBS2 reports the attorneys for the Newtown families believe they’ve found an exception in the law that allows them to press the gun industry on one specific type of gun — the killer’s choice.
“He chose the AR-15 because he was aware of how many shots it could fire, how lethal it was, that it was designed to fit his objective of killing the most people in the quickest time possible,” Nicole Hockley, mother of Dylan Hockley, told CBS2.
On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Lanza killed his mother before the school shooting and killed himself afterward.
As 1010 WINS’ Steve Kastenbaum reported, Lanza fired a total of 153 rounds from an AR-15.
“Each of the kids had three to eight bullets in them,” said Jackie Barden.
David Wheeler’s 7-year-old son, Benjamin, was also killed. He believes Remington bears some responsibility because of how the company marketed the weapon, including product placements in video games like “Call Of Duty,” which Lanza played regularly, Kastenbaum reported.
“I would like them to stop looking at violence-prone young men as their ideal customer,” he said.
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