From the day they stood together to announce their lawsuit in their Bridgeport, Connecticut, attorney’s office four years ago, a group of Sandy Hook parents have said the same thing — all they wanted was to learn about the marketing strategy behind the Remington semiautomatic rifle used to kill their children.
Facing what seemed liked impenetrable congressional protection for the gun industry, the odds grew longer when a state judge threw the case out. But last week’s stunning state Supreme Court ruling allowing the case to proceed has increased their chances of getting access to secret marketing documents that gun manufacturers like Remington have fought hard to protect.
“We’re not starting from a completely blank slate here. You don’t get to a marketing campaign like they have had targeting young men that wasn’t well thought out,” said Josh Koskoff, lawyer for the Sandy Hook families. “These families weren’t the target audience for Remington. The Sandy Hook shooter was their target. He was in the crosshairs of their marketing campaign, and he knew a lot about what that gun could do.”
The state Supreme Court remanded the gun case back to Bridgeport Superior Court — a ruling that paves the way for the families to subpoena internal documents on how the gun companies have marketed the AR-15, which has been used in mass shootings.
“All we have ever wanted is to peel back the layers of this corporate entity Remington so we can find out what their goals were and objectives were in the marketing of this product,” William Sherlach said. His wife Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist, was one of 26 people gunned down in five minutes on Dec. 14, 2012, by Adam Lanza using a AR-15 made by Remington.
Remington and lawyers for the gun-maker have declined to comment since the decision by the state Supreme Court.
If the ruling stands, it possibly has created a path that other mass shooting victims can follow to get around the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which has protected the manufacturers of the AR-15 assault weapons from legal ramifications following mass shootings.
The court ruled that the Sandy Hook families should have the opportunity to prove that Remington violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act by marketing what it knew was a weapon designed for military use to civilians.