Sandy Hook families file state supreme court appeal in case against gun makers

Story highlights

  • In October, a Connecticut superior court judge granted Remington's motion to strike the case
  • Victims' families argue the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre involved a weapon "designed for our armed forces"

(CNN)The families of nine victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre -- who filed suit against gun makers and recently lost their bid to take the case to trial -- are now asking Connecticut's Supreme Court to hear their appeal.

In October, Connecticut superior court judge Barbara Bellis ruled in favor of Remington -- the gun manufacturer of the Bushmaster AR-15, used by 20-year-old Adam Lanza to kill 20 children and six educators -- by granting their motion to strike the case. Previously, Bellis had allowed the discovery phase to proceed and had even assigned a tentative trial date for 2018.
    In their appeal, attorneys for the families describe the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School as "a singular event in Connecticut history" that was carried out by a man with a weapon "designed for our armed forces and engineered to deliver maximum carnage." They argue Remington is responsible since the company "chose to sell a weapon of war and aggressively market its assaultive capabilities."
    "It is only appropriate that Connecticut's highest court decide whether these families have the right to proceed."
    In her October order in favor of Remington, Bellis ruled that gun makers are immune by the provisions set forth in a federal statute known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. That law, signed by President George W. Bush in 2005, has since prohibited lawsuits against gun manufacturers and distributors if their firearms are used in a criminal act.
    "If you were starting over again to create the safest environment for our society you would not write this law," said Ian Hockley, whose 6-year-old son Dylan was killed in the mass shooting. "It is unnatural in the level of protection it gives the gun industry. Instead you would create roles ensuring that such weapons are entrusted to responsible citizens who comply with sensible laws about the training required to own one and their safe storage and usage."
    The Sandy Hook families had sought an exemption to the law through a claim of "negligent entrustment," arguing the companies knowingly marketed and sold the AR-15 to a particularly vulnerable group of young men.
    "We feel strongly that the critical issues raised in this case belong before our state's Supreme Court and we hope the Court agrees," said the families' attorney Josh Koskoff in a press release.
    "Our only goal in bringing this appeal is to help prevent the next Sandy Hook from happening," said Nicole Hockley, mother of Dylan, in a statement. "And we have faith that Connecticut's Supreme Court will take up what is literally a matter of life and death."
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    "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, age 6, was also killed in the Sandy Hook shooting.
    Remington have not responded to CNN's request for comment.