Court hears appeal in Newtown shooting case

Attorney Joshua Koskoff who represents a group of families of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting victims speaks during a hearing in Superior Court in Bridgeport in 2016 on a wrongful death lawsuit against rifle maker Remington Arms over the Sandy

The Connecticut Supreme Court has heard arguments in an appeal on whether a major gunmaker should be held liable in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

The killings at the Sandy Hook elementary school in CT - which claimed the lives of mostly children aged between six and seven in less than five minutes shortly before Christmas - shocked America and reignited the national debate about gun control.

When Adam Lanza prepared for his massacre on the morning of December 14, 2012, he put on tactical gear, taped 30-round magazines together and reached for a weapon that Remington should never had made available to him, plaintiffs attorney Josh Koskoff told the panel of judges Tuesday in Hartford. The families suing include parents of slain children Benjamin Wheeler, Dylan Hockley, Noah Pozner, Daniel Barden and Jesse Lewis; and family members of slain teacher's aide Rachel D'Avino, slain school psychologist Mary Sherlach, slain teachers Victoria Soto and Lauren Rousseau and injured teacher Natalie Hammond.

Attorneys for Remington have said the rifle used in Newtown was legally made, legally distributed and legally sold to Lanza's mother.

Plaintiffs' attorney Josh Koskoff said the families want the high court to return the case back to the Bridgeport Superior Court so "the discovery phase of this case can begin and we can start uncovering documents on how this military weapon ended up in civilian hands".

Lawyers for the gunmaker say there was no opportunity for Remington to asses the shooter, Adam Lanza, so there was no way they could know what the gun would be used for.

Koskoff said the weapon Lanza "needed for his mission that day was never in doubt". He got it for his 18th birthday ... remember he was 14 years old when they started this marketing plan. Negligent entrustment is specifically excepted from the 2005 gun maker shield laws. "You can't launder negligence through other parties", said Koskoff.

"Could you imagine the Ford Motor Company advertising a vehicle that can run over people?"

David Studdert, a Stanford law professor, said on Monday he thought negligent entrustment was a tough argument for the families to make because it has traditionally involved someone having direct knowledge that another person poses a risk.

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The case has drawn national attention.

A lower court dismissed the lawsuit past year, ruling that a federal law protects the gun manufacturer.

They say it is allowed under an exemption to the federal law for common law "negligent entrustment", saying Remington entrusted to the public a product it knew, or should have known, could be used to injure others.

The plaintiffs said the law does not protect Remington because it marketed the rifle "not for sport or for target shooting or self-defense" but "for exactly what it was", Koskoff said. "But no matter how much we wished those children and teachers were still alive, the law needs to be applied".

The company has also argued that the question of whether the AR-15 should be sold to the public should be dealt with by legislators rather than juries.

Assault-style weapons were banned in CT after the Sandy Hook shooting. A federal ban on such weapons was passed in 2004 and expired a decade later.

He appeared at the hearing.

"In the military, a weapon of this time is subject to strict rules about its use and storage", said Ian Hockley, whose son Dylan was one of the victims.

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