A closely watched lawsuit that could provide a roadmap for suing gun companies in the wake of mass shootings can move forward in a Connecticut court, the Supreme Court said Tuesday.
A survivor and relatives of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting are suing Remington Arms Co., which manufactured the rifle used to kill 26 people. The suit argues that Remington violated Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act by recklessly marketing the rifle to high-risk young men like the shooter at Sandy Hook.
The suit is a high-stakes challenge to gun companies, which have rarely been held liable for crimes committed with their products. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), a 2005 federal law, generally shields firearms manufacturers and retailers from civil liability in lawsuits brought by victims of gun violence.
The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in March that the lawsuit could proceed, however, based on the state’s Unfair Trade Practices Act. Remington appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. By declining to hear the case, the high court effectively allowed the lawsuit to proceed in Connecticut.
An eventual ruling against Remington could establish legal precedent, opening doors for more lawsuits against gun manufacturers, and expose the company’s internal communications about its marketing plans.
This post will be updated.
Guns & America is a public media reporting project on the role of guns in American life.