Judge rules Newtown lawsuit against gun maker can go forward - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Judge rules Newtown lawsuit against gun maker can go forward

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Sandy Hook, CT (AP Images) Sandy Hook, CT (AP Images)
BRIDGEPORT, CT (WFSB/AP) -

A Connecticut judge has denied the gun companies’ motion to dismiss in the Sandy Hook case and allowed litigation to continue.

This refers to the families’ efforts to hold gun companies responsible for the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of 2012. Bushmaster tried to have the lawsuit thrown out, as they said they are not responsible for the acts committed with their products.

Police say Adam Lanza used a Bushmaster AR-15 to kill 20 children and six educators inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of 2012.

On Thursday, Judge Barbara Bellis ruled that a federal law protecting gun makers from lawsuits does not prevent lawyers for the families of Sandy Hook victims from arguing that the AR-15 is a military weapon and should not have been sold to civilians.

A lawyer for the families had argued there is an exception in federal law that allows litigation against companies that know, or should know, that their weapons are likely to be used in a way that risks injury to others.

Families did not comment on Thursday, but when the lawsuit was filed, Nicole Hockley, mother of Dylan, said "There are a lot of guns our shooter could have chosen from his Arsenal. He chose the AR15 because it served his purpose to kill as many people as possible."

Police said Lanza was able to fire off more than 150 bullets in less than five minutes with the gun. Bushmaster was looking to get the lawsuit thrown out, citing a federal law passed in 2005 that shields them against legal action stemming from crimes where their guns were used. They did not provide a comment on the ruling.

Last month, the company's lawyer James Vogts said "Every gun manufacturer could be held for every death - they're creating a liability scheme against manufacturers of liable products and that's exactly what the federal law is intended to avoid."

The judge ruled that law doesn't prevent the victims' lawyers from making their arguments, so the lawsuit can continue.

The sides are due back in court Tuesday

“We are thrilled that the gun companies’ motion to dismiss was denied. The families look forward to continuing their fight in court,” said Lawyer Josh Koskoff, who represents the families.

In a statement, Gov. Dannel Malloy said "We’ve passed the toughest gun laws in the nation for a reason. These families deserve this — the ruling is the right one. The gun industry should not have protections that no other industry in America sees. This is a victory for the families and a victory for those who stand for commonsense gun laws.”

In a statement, Senators Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty said "“Today’s ruling is a good step forward for the Sandy Hook families and for all Americans who have agonized with the Newtown community since that dark day in December of 2012. The judge opened the courthouse door to allow these families to continue to plead their case. But unfortunately, for far too many families, PLCAA has been a complete barrier to justice. We won’t stop fighting until this harmful law is repealed.” 

To read the full decision, click here.

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.