Remington Arms, parent company of the manufacturer of the assault rifle used by Adam Lanza in the Newtown elementary school shooting, returned to a Connecticut courtroom today to ask a judge to strike a lawsuit by families of nine victims who died and by one teacher who was wounded but survived. The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012 killed 20 students and six educators.
The lawsuit argues that the company knew the AR-15-style rifle was meant for the military yet marketed it to civilians. Remington Arms tried unsuccessfully a couple of months ago to dismiss the lawsuit based on a federal law that shields gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products. Now the company wants the judge to strike the lawsuit.
A motion to strike is used to question specifically whether one or more of the claims made in a lawsuit is legally allowed. A motion to dismiss may be based on claims such as that the court does not have the power to hear the type of case or that the case was filed in the wrong court.
The case is being heard in a state court, but Remington, parent of the manufacturer Bushmaster, has argued that the federal law shielding gun manufacturers, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, still applies. These plaintiffs believe there are certain exceptions to the law that permit their claim, but an attorney for Remington, James Vogt, argued today, “The plaintiffs don’t fit into any of those categories” that would allow the suit to proceed.
“They’re asking the court to accept a definition that is not applicable” and is “too broad,” Vogt said. He also argued that the plaintiffs lack standing because the case comes too long after the sale of the rifle to Lanza’s mother. “It’s a rather clean argument that they didn’t meet the statute of limitations,” Vogt said.
The attorney for the plaintiffs, Josh Koskoff, said that while “there is nothing unreasonable about manufacturing an AR-15, it’s what they do with it.”
Koskoff called the AR-15 the “gold standard military assault rifle,” and yet, he said, “There it was on the floor of a first-grade classroom” used by someone whose only resemblance to a soldier was that “he dressed like one.”
Koskoff accused Remington Arms of making “negligent choices” to “entrust the most notorious killing machine to the public and to continue to do so in the face of mounting evidence of its association of mass murder of civilians.”