Judge hears arguments in Sandy Hook suit against gun maker

A Fairfield County judge on Monday heard arguments over whether to strike the lawsuit filed by families of Sandy Hook victims against the manufacturer of the assault rifle used in the 2012 Newtown school shooting.

A Fairfield County judge on Monday heard arguments over whether to strike the lawsuit filed by families of Sandy Hook victims against the manufacturer of the assault rifle used in the 2012 Newtown school shooting. (6/20/16)

NORWALK - A Fairfield County judge on Monday heard arguments over whether to strike the lawsuit filed by families of Sandy Hook victims against the manufacturer of the assault rifle used in the 2012 Newtown school shooting.

The court was standing room-only as it was packed with more than a dozen Sandy Hook family members, plus media from across Connecticut, New York and beyond.

Police say the gunman in the shooting used an AR-15 rifle and unloaded more than 150 rounds, ultimately killing six educators and 20 children.

The Newtown families say they hope a lawsuit against gun maker Remington, which makes the AR-15, will stop more people from going through what they have.

However, a 2005 federal law grants gun manufacturers protection from any lawsuit related to injuries resulting from criminal misuse of their product. One exception to the immunity rule is called negligent entrustment, which means it was known that the person buying the weapon was going to cause harm.

The defendants say the exception does not apply because the shooter's mother legally bought the assault rifle. The lawsuit argues the way that Remington sells and markets a military-style weapon to the civilian market, targeting people who want to inflict mass destruction, is a form of negligent entrustment.

The families' attorneys say the suit is not about banning assault weapons; it's about accountability and making the gun industry police itself for the public's safety.

Attorneys for Remington, along with the distributor and retailer, say it comes down to a policy question that should be decided by the Legislature, not a court.

The judge is expected to release her decision in the coming weeks.

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