The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."
Which is the same logic as, "Hammers don't build roofs, people build roofs." No duh. But it'd be nearly impossible to build a roof without a hammer.
So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?
The Supreme Court of the United States thinks it's a sensible argument.
On Tuesday, November 12, it rejected the Remington Arms Company's bid to block a lawsuit filed in the state of Connecticut that would hold the company partially responsible for the 28 lives taken with one of its Bushmaster AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre.
The nine justices did not include any comment about the case.
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Previously, gun manufacturers were shielded from responsibility for crimes committed with their weapons due to the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
But the law has exceptions, namely one allowing companies to be sued for knowingly violating state or federal laws governing how a product is sold or marketed.
In a narrow five to four decision announced last March, a state court in Connecticut said companies that market military-style guns to civilians as a way of killing enemies could be violating state fair trade laws.
Sandy Hook memorialvia Bbjeter / Wikimedia Commons
This decision by the state to try the case prompted Remington to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
The Connecticut court decision "threatens to unleash a flood of lawsuits nationwide that would subject lawful business practices to crippling litigation burdens," Remington argued in its appeal.
In court papers, the Sandy Hook families claimed that Remington "chose to market the XM15-E2S as a highly lethal weapon designed for purposes that are illegal — namely, killing other human beings."
The XM15-E2S is a close relative of the M16, an automatic rifle used by the U.S. military.
"Consider Your Man Card Reissued," reads a Bushmaster ad for its AR-15-style gun, the kind used in the Sandy Hook shooting. The ad speaks to a "macho hyper-masculinity," said one of the attorneys, Katie Mesner-Hage.
Another Bushmaster ad reads, "Force of Opposition, Bow Down: You are Single-Handedly Outnumbered."
"The advertising isn't misleading. It's actually extremely accurate," Mesner-Hage said. "It's a military weapon. It's inciteful, reckless advertising." The AR-15 is manufactured to serve "one purpose, which is to inflict as many casualties in combat" as possible, she said.
The attorney's representing the Sandy Hook families announced they are ready to resume discovery and proceed towards a trial to "shed light on Remington's profit-driven strategy" to "court high-risk users at the expense of Americans' safety."
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