Although the Trump administration continues to largely ignore pressing national issues like gun violence, this week, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a significant victory to those seeking to hold the interests accountable who pave the way for that gun violence to happen. The nation’s highest court refused to hear an appeal from the gun manufacturer Remington, which was arguing that they should be able to get out of a lawsuit brought by families of the victims of and a survivor from the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
In that attack, the shooter — a man named Adam Lanza — used a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle to kill his mother, 20 first-grade students, and six teaching staff, before also killing himself.
As POLITICO notes:
‘The lawsuit says the Madison, North Carolina-based company should never have sold a weapon as dangerous as the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle to the public… It also alleges Remington targeted younger, at-risk males in marketing and product placement in violent video games.’
Fred Guttenberg — whose daughter died in the 2018 Parkland, Florida, high school shooting and has since become a gun control advocate — commented:
‘This is a BIG, BIG, BIG deal. The Supreme Court is allowing this lawsuit to move forward. The gun manufactures cannot hide behind bad marketing decisions that are leading to the death of our children.’
This is a BIG, BIG, BIG deal. The Supreme Court is allowing this lawsuit to move forward. The gun manufactures cannot hide behind bad marketing decisions that are leading to the death of our children. https://t.co/2n2cUcg9ze
— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) November 12, 2019
The Supreme Court refusing to hear Remington’s appeal follows the Connecticut Supreme Court also allowing the case to proceed with a 4-3 ruling in favor of those who brought it. Before that ruling, a trial court judge had ruled against the lawsuit, citing the 2005 federal law shielding weapons manufacturers from at least some responsibility when their weapons are used in attacks. The law — called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act — has been cited in other instances where courts struck down litigation against weapons manufacturers, including in the aftermath of the 2002 D.C. sniper attacks and the 2012 Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting.
POLITICO notes that the current case “has the potential to provide a roadmap for victims of other mass shootings to circumvent the federal law and sue the makers of firearms.” A laundry list of pro-gun interests including the National Rifle Association, 10 mainly Republican-led states, and 22 Republicans in Congress had been advocating on Remington’s behalf, but to no avail, it turns out.
Their failure follows a continuing surge of activism in favor of more common sense gun control. Following the 2018 Parkland, Florida, high school shooting, survivors and their allies launched a nationwide campaign for that gun control that has included highlights like a massive protest march in D.C. called the March for Our Lives, which had connected marches all across the country.
Democratic leaders in D.C. have worked to provide answers to these advocates; months ago, they passed legislation mandating universal background checks for gun purchases. Although Republican leaders including even President Donald Trump himself suggested in the aftermath of a recent weekend of violence that claimed more than 30 lives that the GOP would be open to moving forward with that, they have not.