Hearing begins on gunmaker’s bid to dismiss Newtown lawsuit

Newtown families outside court

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — A Connecticut judge is hearing arguments on whether to dismiss a lawsuit against the maker of the semiautomatic rifle used to kill 20 children and six adults in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre;  a weapon similar to the one used this month in the shooting at a Florida nightclub.

Bridgeport Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis listened to attorneys from both sides Monday. Remington Arms filed a motion to strike the case. Bellis rejected a similar request by Remington to dismiss the lawsuit back in April.

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The judge is deciding if the gunmaker and seller can, or should, be held responsible for the tragedy. The families argue that the companies are negligent, because the gun and the ammunition used was marketed to civilians, even though the gun itself is intended to be used as a military rifle.

A teacher, Vicki Soto, was one of the 26 people killed at Sandy Hook elementary back in 2012. Her brother Matthew Soto spoke with reporters before they went into court.

No one should be put in that position. No other families should have to sit for 6 hours and wait to hear if their loved one is alive or dead, but yet so many families have to go through that process in this country.

The group of Sandy Hook families is represented by attorney Josh Koskoff, who argued about the size and scope of the case.

It’s really not the role of this court or perhaps the jury to decide if civilians as a class of people that it’s not appropriate for them to own these kinds of firearms.

Attorneys for the gunmaker say they are protected from lawsuits because of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. They say this states they’re not liable if a gun is used in a crime.

The families’ lawsuit alleges Remington violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act and the common law of “negligent entrustment,” which was designed for cases such as when a gun store sells to someone who is obviously intoxicated and threatening to kill someone.

In addition to Remington Arms, the defendants also include Camfour, a firearm distributor, and Riverview Gun Sales, the now-closed East Windsor store where Lanza’s mother, Nancy Lanza, purchased the Bushmaster rifle in 2010.

In April, Judge Bellis set a trial date for April, 2018. That date will still hold unless she chooses to strike the case.

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