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Sandy Hook Families Ask Court to Reconsider

HARTFORD – The families of nine Sandy Hook victims and one of the survivors today asked the Connecticut Supreme Court to hear their appeal after the case was struck down last month by a Superior Court judge in Bridgeport.

Describing the Newtown shooting as a “singular event in Connecticut history,” the families’ appeal argues that the state’s highest court should decide whether the sellers of the weapon used in the shooting can be held accountable under Connecticut law.

As the appeal says, “the loss of twenty first-graders and six educators would shake any community to its core,” the appeal papers state.  “Ours had to grapple with the manner in which those lives were lost,” the appeals says. “… It is only appropriate that Connecticut’s highest court decide whether these families have the right to proceed.”

The families’ appeal asks the Supreme Court to consider the scope of the common law of negligent entrustment in Connecticut – which has not been discussed in the state’s appellate courts in nearly a century – and its application to circumstances and technology that could not have been contemplated when the cause of action was first recognized.

When Judge Barbara Bellis dismissed the case last month, her opinion stated that she was bound by two appellate court rulings from 2005 and 2006 that require plaintiffs to establish a business relationship with the defendants in order to bring a CUTPA claim.

“Nothing will ever bring back my son, Dylan, or the other lives stolen from us on that awful day,” said Nicole Hockley, whose son, Dylan, was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting.  “Our only goal in bringing this appeal is to help prevent the next Sandy Hook from happening and we have faith that Connecticut’s Supreme Court will take up what is literally a matter of life and death.”

“As a father who lost a bright and shining child, all we ask is for our day in court to address the negligence of these companies,” said David Wheeler, whose son, Benjamin, was also killed in the Sandy Hook shooting.

As the families’ case makes clear, the AR-15 is a killing machine designed as a military weapon to inflict mass carnage. It can unleash 30 rounds in under 10 seconds and can penetrate body armor.  It has exceptional muzzle velocity, making each hit lethal, and its large capacity magazines allow for rapid-fire, prolonged assaults.

It was built for warfare and has been the military’s weapon of choice for 50 years because of its efficiency as a mass casualty weapon.  When entrusted to the military, the AR-15 requires more than 100 hours of training and is subject to strict protocols on safety and storage.

Still, the weapons’ sellers, including Remington, made a calculated decision to aggressively market and sell the AR-15 to the public, knowing that the necessary structure and oversight found in the military was utterly lacking.  That carefully executed marketing campaign, which continues today, has made the AR-15 the weapon of choice for mass murderers. Indeed, it has been used in massacres at San Bernardino, Aurora and several other preventable tragedies.

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