The 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was nothing short of a tragedy. Adam Lanza, the shooter, shot his mother, 20 children, and seven school officials before taking his own life. In response to the tragedy, the families of the victims have filed a lawsuit against Remington Arms, arguing that Remington promoted the gun used as a “highly lethal weapon designed for purposes that are illegal—namely, killing other human beings.”
The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in favor of the families. However, this past Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to hear an appeal by Remington Arms, leading the families of Sandy Hook to file a lawsuit against them. While there should be accountability of the shooting and the families should be compensated, suing Remington and the ability to continue this lawsuit is not the way to go about seeking rectification.
Remington’s argument was that the 2005 “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act” (PLCAA) shielded them from any litigation brought against them due to someone using their weapons in an illegal way. This was a bipartisan vote that had the majority of the American population in agreement with the bill. It would make sense to shield gun manufacturers from lawsuits. Since it is the shooter responsible for the shooting, not the gun, why should gun manufacturers be held responsible?
The main argument of the Sandy Hook lawsuit was that Remington was maliciously targeting at risk individuals who might be more likely to buy their weapons. The proceeding of the lawsuit will force Remington to produce document outlying how they market their weapons, specifically the one used in the Sandy Hook shooting.
The Supreme Court should have heard Remington’s appeal to provide clarification as to how much the PLCAA protects gun manufacturers.
Remington will still likely win the case brought up by the families, Remington having to demonstrate their marketing strategy is an incredible invasion of privacy. Remington shouldn’t have to prove their innocence in this case by overturning hundreds of documents demonstrating their marketing practices. While they should face severe consequences if they are found to be malicious, their legal basis in starting this appeal is incredibly shaky. This appears in the Connecticut Supreme Court only ruling 4-5. The Supreme Court should have heard the case to provide necessary clarity.
The Second Amendment states that Congress has the right to regulate the ability of people to bear arms. The regulation and oversight of such should be up to Congress, not the Courts, to decide. While there are some lapses that Congress should be held accountable for, such as the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, we should be calling on our members of Congress to change the laws if they are to be changed. It’s the Court's role to explain, decide upon, and judicate legal codes, not to actually make them.
Therefore, asking the Courts to hold gun manufacturers accountable for producing the tools used in killings instead of the actual individuals responsible for the tragedies fails to address the root of the gun problem in America.
Further, the solution, basic background checks and the regulation of some specific models of weapons, falls on Congress, and to call for anything else shows at best a misunderstanding of legal proceedings at at worst a lack of understanding of gun violence itself.