A Superior Court judge in Connecticut ruled today that a federal law that has shielded firearms manufacturers from some liability for the “misuse” of their products is not sufficient grounds to dismiss a lawsuit brought by 10 relatives of victims of the Sandy Hook mass murder of 2012. The lawsuit against the manufacturer and distributor of the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle used by Adam Lanza in his rampage may now proceed. Lanza killed 26 people, including his mother. It was his mother who purchased the weapon. Remington Arms Co., the maker of the rifle used in the shooting, is among the defendants who include: Camfour Inc., a firearms distributor, and Riverview Sales Inc., and the East Windsor, Conn., gun shop that sold the rifle used in the attack.
Since Hillary Clinton has sought to place herself to the left of socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders on 2nd Amendment issues, the court ruling will likely come up in their upcoming debate. It is one of the few issues where she is coming from Sanders’ left flank.
Sanders has been criticized by gun control advocates for supporting the federal law, reaffirming last week in an interview with New York Daily News that he does not believe “victims of a crime with a gun should be able to sue the manufacturer.”
Hillary Clinton has made this a key point of the contrast she seeks to show with Sanders, while she may be eager to highlight the lawsuit as New York advances toward the Democratic primaries in New York on April 19. It is reported that her campaign has sent quotes of the victims’ family member views on Sanders to reporters in advance.
Judge Barbara Bellis ruled today that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 (PLCCA) is not grounds for dismissing the suit. Clinton has praised the ruling and said that the law "remains a major obstacle for these families and others seeking to hold these gun companies accountable."
Clinton added, "That is why, as president, I would lead the charge to repeal this law. Nothing can make these families whole again after losing their children and loved ones in Sandy Hook, but they deserve a president who will fight for them, and I am committed to doing just that.”
Sanders said last month in Michigan, “If they are selling a product and the person who buys it legally, what you are talking about is ending gun manufacturing in America. I don't agree with that.”
Erica Smegielski, a daughter of the principal who was shot to death at Sandy Hook, demanded an apology from Sanders. She said his position amounts to a “callous dismissal of our concerns and our fight for justice.” Sanders has refused.
Reportedly, firearms industry officials are confident that the case will ultimately be dismissed, based on the so-called shield law. Bellis noted that her ruling doesn’t weigh in on the merits of the families’ case, which argues that the manufacturers and sellers negligently marketed it to civilians. According to Politico, a gun manufacturer executive said that the case is a textbook example of the type Congress barred from being brought. “You cannot sue any manufacturer for the criminal misuse of any lawfully sold, non-defective product whether the product is a gun, a car, a hammer or a knife," said the executive.
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