Sandy Hook Parents Are Suing a Gunmaker & It Could Make All Children Safer

ar-15A potentially historic lawsuit could serve to swing the pendulum toward stronger gun control laws. This is the suit brought forward by the families of Sandy Hook against Remington -- the makers of the AR-15 rifle specifically made for our military in combat but also manufactured for sale to civilians. It is the rifle that was used to kill 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

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I believe in the right to bear arms, but not at the detriment of our children's or anyone's safety. Something has to be done, and we have to take a look at the accountability of gunmakers. I don't believe this is the answer, but I do believe it could be part of the solution. Gun control is a topic we must continue to talk about. We have to reexamine laws previously made; we may have to create new ones. It's not something that should only be discussed in the days or weeks after a mass shooting. It should be a topic we continue to revisit. Sometimes existing laws need to be changed.

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Gunmakers are protected by the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. This law grants companies like Remington immunity from any lawsuit brought to them if their gun was misused by someone. Generally speaking, I agree with this law. Guns can get in the wrong hands. And this is exactly the case here -- Remington could be protected and the lawsuit may never go to trial citing this Arms Act. Remington, of course, is trying to get this case dismissed.

But change has to happen. We have to look at everything, every part of this case, every single little thing that led up to these children and teachers' being killed at school. If gunmakers start to see that this immunity could be challenged, will they do more to make sure their guns don't get in the wrong hands? Could this be the start of that change?

I want it to be. As a mother and also as someone who believes we have a right to bear arms, I believe this particular rifle should not be in the hands of civilians so easily. Why is it? For collectors? It seems like a ridiculous thing to easily grant gun aficionados with military-grade weapons when they are also a magnet for those who want to misuse them to kill children. If laws are more strict, those collectors can still have their guns -- they just may need to go through more hoops to get them. Isn't the safety of our children worth that?

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The phrases jumping out at me regarding this case are "misuse of product" and "negligent entrustment." The product is being misused and that isn't the gunmakers' fault, but if we could work together with gun manufacturers, they should want to put safety over sales. Negligent entrustment is when a sale of a gun was made to someone who clearly wasn't fit to own a gun. An example made was if a gun was sold to an intoxicated person. But we can dig deeper. If something like that happens, then negligent entrustment cancels out immunity.

The AR-15 wasn't put in the Sandy Hook killer's hands directly from Remington, but from a gun retailer. This is the kind of purchase that shouldn't be easily made. This is what this lawsuit is all about -- that an AR-15-style weapon should not be sold to civilians. The lawsuit argues that selling a military-grade weapon to the general public is a form of negligent entrustment.

It's an industry that needs more regulation. This type of weapon that kills with such swiftness isn't made for the public. We have to do something and we have to make changes everywhere, not just with our mental health system.

We need stricter gun laws, and no matter what happens with this case, even if it doesn't go to trial, it could be the start of something bigger, to make us safer, to make our kids safer. The lawsuit is brought forward by nine victims' families and one surviving teacher. They have lost their children in this horrific way and are doing something so it doesn't happen again, to protect our children. We need to stand with them.

The case is currently being heard.

 

Image via Robert Freiberger/Flickr

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