On April 14, Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ruled that the suit that numerous Sandy Hook Elementary School families brought against gun manufacturer Bushmaster may proceed.
Her ruling comes despite the protection that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) provides gun manufacturers, shielding them from lawsuits over the misuse of firearms that are legally manufactured and sold. The Bushmaster used in the Sandy Hook attack was legally manufactured, and The New York Times reports that Nancy Lanza “legally obtained and registered” it. Her son then stole it and used it in the heinous attack.
But the Hartford Courant reports Judge Bellis sees a narrow avenue by which she can allow the suit to proceed, “agreeing with the plaintiffs that she has jurisdiction to continue with the case, but not ruling on whether the [PLCAA] blocks the plaintiffs from pursuing their claim.”
The Sandy Hook Elementary families involved in the suit are going after Bushmaster over the way the AR-15 was advertised. They “[allege] that the Bushmaster, a semiautomatic rifle similar in appearance to fully automatic military rifles, was marketed in a militaristic fashion that appealed to those intent on inflicting mass casualties.” The Connecticut Post reports that the families took this approach with their suit in hopes of circumventing PLCAA protections via arguments that “the Bushmaster XM-15 rifle is a military-style rifle that should never have been marketed to civilians” to begin with.
Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy (D) praised Bellis’ ruling, describing it as “a moral victory.” Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said Bellis’ ruling “is a historic and seismic step to open the courthouse doors for gun violence survivors and others who have legitimate legal complaints against the gun industry,” adding that “it is a powerful impetus and momentum for ongoing reform efforts to stop gun violence that is an epidemic and public health crisis in our nation.”
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.