Why Sandy Hook Families Are Citing a 1970s Slingshot Injury

They're hoping the Connecticut state supreme court will allow their case to move forward
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2017 8:05 AM CST
Could a 1977 Suit About a Slingshot Affect a Big Sandy Hook Case?
In this Dec. 14, 2012 aerial file photo, officials stand outside of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.   (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

The families of nine Sandy Hook victims, along with a wounded teacher who survived, have for years been going after the maker of Adam Lanza's "weapon of choice"—the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle. This week, they'll see if their lawsuit has teeth. Filed in 2014, the suit was dismissed last October by a Connecticut state superior judge who ruled the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act—which offers immunity to gunmakers when one of their products is used in a crime and establishes an extremely high bar for litigation against them—did indeed shield Bushmaster-maker Remington from such a claim. Now it's up to the state Supreme Court to decide whether the case should move forward. The New York Times explains the crux of the suit: that the very idea of putting a military weapon into the hands of untrained civilians qualifies as "negligent entrustment."

It further argues the gun's makers promoted the weapon to unstable males by pushing it within their realm—think product placement in video games. The Hartford Courant explains they'll try to bolster their claim by citing a 1977 lawsuit involving a slingshot. The Michigan case, which involved 12-year-old who suffered an eye injury while using the device, was green-lit for jury trial after the judge found the company should have anticipated such accidents because it "entrusted" the device to kids. The Times notes that if the case is OKed for trial, then the internal communications that gun makers have kept a tight clench on would be handed to prosecutors, "a potentially revealing and damaging glimpse into the industry and how it operates." But the Wall Street Journal notes that since the 2005 arms act was passed, suits like these have largely failed. (The FBI last month revealed many more details about Lanza.)

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