Sandy Hook Families Blame Bushmaster in Suit for Shooting

The maker of the military assault rifle used to kill dozens at a Connecticut elementary school was sued almost exactly two years later by the families of 20 first-grade students who died in the mass shooting.

The Bushmaster Firearms International LLC rifle used by Adam Lanza in the Dec. 14, 2012, attack was specifically engineered for the U.S. military to kill in combat and wasn’t designed for home defense or hunting use, Josh Koskoff, a lawyer for the families, said today in a statement. Bushmaster is a unit of Cerberus Capital Management LP’s Remington Arms Co.

The attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, reignited the national debate about gun violence and spurred calls for lawmakers to expand firearm-control laws, such as expanded background checks on buyers, a ban on civilian sales of military-style rifles and a limit on the ammunition capacity of magazines.

A push for background checks supported by President Barack Obama after the shooting failed to win Senate approval in April 2013. In June, Obama called the failure to enact tougher gun-control laws his greatest disappointment since taking office.

Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed his 52-year-old mother, Nancy, with a .22-caliber rifle before going to the school he once attended and killing 20 children and six adults. Lanza killed himself after the massacre with a Glock pistol.

‘Tragically Predictable’

The size and firepower of the Bushmaster AR-15 semiautomatic rifle used by Lanza are “liabilities in home defense,” and there is one “tragically predictable civilian activity” in which it succeeds -- mass shootings, lawyers for the families said in a copy of the complaint provided by the law firm, Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder PC. The filing couldn’t immediately be confirmed in Connecticut state court records.

Teddy Novin, a spokesman for Madison, North Carolina-based Remington, said the company won’t comment on pending litigation.

Bushmaster knew or should have known that selling assault rifles to civilians posed an “unreasonable and egregious” risk of injury to others, the families said in their lawsuit.

“Time and again, mentally unstable individuals have acquired an AR-15 with ease, and they have unleashed the rifle’s lethal power into our streets, our malls, our places of worship and our schools,” the families said in the suit, which seeks monetary losses, punitive damages and legal fees.

‘Safe Harbor’

Bill Sherlach, whose wife Mary, a 56-year-old school psychologist, died in the attack, said the suit seeks to hold the company accountable for its weapons sales.

“For far too long, the gun industry has been given legislative safe harbor” for selling weapons to untrained users, he said in the statement.

The lawsuit seeks monetary losses, punitive damages and legal fees. The complaint was delivered to a marshal, as required by Connecticut law, according to the statement. The official filing wasn’t immediately available in records of state Superior Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The case is Soto v. Bushmaster Firearms, Connecticut Superior Court, Judicial District of Fairfield (Bridgeport).

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