WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday, Nov. 12, turned down a request from the gun industry intended to block a lawsuit from families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims.
The decision lets stand a groundbreaking ruling from the Connecticut Supreme Court that said the manufacturer of the Bushmaster AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle can be sued and potentially held liable for the 2012 massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
The Supreme Court declined to review the ruling without comment from any individual justice.
The lawsuit was brought by the estates of nine victims killed by Adam Lanza, who was armed with the high-powered rifle, made by Remington, during his assault that left 28 dead, including 20 young children.
Gun-control advocates applauded the Supreme Court's decision not to block the lawsuit.
"Gun manufacturers throughout the country should be on notice that they'll need to answer for their reckless business practices in the courts," Eric Tirschwell, managing director of litigation for Everytown Law, said in a statement.
"This reaffirms that the gun industry is not above the law and that the families of the Sandy Hook victims will have their day in court."
The Connecticut court's 4-to-3 decision in March overcame a federal law backed by the National Rifle Association and designed to immunize gunmakers from liability for the crimes committed with their weapons.
The narrow state court decision limited liability for gunmakers based on how they advertise their firearms, rather than on the sale to third parties who go on to commit crimes. In its ruling, the court said companies that market military-style guns to civilians as a way of killing enemies could be violating state fair trade laws.
Even so, the decision was seen as having broad implications for gun-control advocates across the country who have had little success in seeking ways to hold gunmakers responsible for crimes committed with their products.
Firearms company Remington had convinced a lower court that federal law prevented the families' lawsuit. But Connecticut's high court said that the law had exceptions, and that one of them was meant for state consumer protection laws.
The NRA fought hard to get the immunity from Congress, saying it was needed to protect U.S. companies from costly, and what they see as unfair, litigation that blames them for the crimes of others.
Remington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This article was written by Ann Marimow, a reporter for The Washington Post.