As debates over gun control and its role in the prevention of school shootings continues to escalate, the Supreme Court’s role in the interpretation of preexisting laws is essential to the resolution of such issues.
Thus, as the supreme court ruled in favor of relatives of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in their case against Remington Arms Company, the shield protecting big gun manufacturers faltered. The ruling blocked Remington’s attempt to appeal the lawsuit, claiming the case “presents a nationally important question” concerning the country’s gun laws, arguing that the case should be tried in front of the Supreme Court rather than a local Connecticut court, warranting the national stage would be more lenient in the protection of gun manufacturers.
Remington based their claim to appeal to the Supreme Court specifically concerned the interpretation of a 2005 law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce Act, which protects gun-makers from crimes committed with their products. The product in question was the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle; the crime was Adam Lanza’s use of it to murder twenty first graders and six elementary school teachers.
As a consequence, the parents involved filed a lawsuit against Remington, accusing the company of violating Connecticut trade laws which prevent gun companies from marketing their products to be used as weapons against human beings. The families claim that through ads placed in violent video games, containing such tag lines as “consider your man card reissued” and “the opposition will bow down,” Remington Arms was in violation of such laws, and through the rifle’s advertisement, Lanza was inclined to use the gun in his attack.
Families claim that such ads “published promotional materials that promised military-proven performance for a mission-adaptable shooter in need of the ultimate combat weapons system.” They also claim the company used a “lone gunman” narrative to promote the Bushmaster, specifically citing an ad that trumpeted, “Forces of opposition, bow down. You are single-handedly outnumbered.”
The lawsuit is seen by many as an attempt to fracture the sheild surrounding firearm manufacturers in the wake of mass shootings, holding not only the shooter but the tool responsible. Ultimately, this case is foreseen to set the tone in legal battles concerning school shootings, and the measures taken towards their prevention.
The trial marks a larger debate occurring in the country, the accountability of the law in preventing such tragedies as school shootings. Therefore, the trial has brought plenty of attention, with supporters of Remington including The National Rifle Association, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, nine states and 22 members of the House who signed nearly a half-dozen legal briefs supporting Remington’s appeal.
None were more outspoken than the National Shooting Sports Foundation, holding fast in their support. They issued statements that deny the role of the company in the shooting. “We are confident that Remington will prevail at trial. Nothing in Remington’s advertising of these products connotes or encourages the illegal or negligent misuse of firearms.”
The next step of the lawsuit is long awaited, claims the families’ representative Josh Koshkoff, who disclosed to the New York Times, “Now we get to proceed with the case, which is what we were hoping to do almost five years ago.” However, the lawyers still needs to do serious research in preparation, laying the groundwork for the case. “We’ll want to ask questions to find out what was behind the decision-making for the marketing that was so aggressive and reckless,” said Koshkoff.
As families continue to mourn and feel the hole left by the loss of a child and loved one, they strive to hold those they find responsibly accountable. Such is the situation of Nicole Hockey, whose seven year old son was killed in the shooting, and who argues against Remington Arms, claiming, “Lanza chose an AR-15-style gun because he knew it would kill as many people as possible as fast as possible.”
The ruling was not a definitive act against gun manufacturers, rather, a step in fostering a debate and, eventually, encouraging a resolution.