March 14 (Reuters) - The Connecticut Supreme Court on Thursday allowed a lawsuit against Remington Outdoor Co Inc to go ahead, giving families who lost loved ones in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting the chance to pursue their claims in an effort to hold the gunmaker liable.
The families of nine of the victims and one survivor have said the manufacturer, along with a gun wholesaler and local retailer, are partially responsible for the carnage at the Newtown, Connecticut, school because they marketed the weapon based on its militaristic appeal.
Adam Lanza, 20, used a Remington AR-15 Bushmaster rifle, a semi-automatic civilian version of the U.S. military's M-16, to kill 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7, as well as six adult staff members, at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. He then killed himself.
Remington on Thursday did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry's trade association, said it was reviewing the decision and did not have immediate comment.
Josh Koskoff, one of the lawyers for the victims' families, said in a statement the families were grateful for the court's rejection of the gun industry's bid for complete immunity.
"The families' goal has always been to shed light on Remington's calculated and profit-driven strategy to expand the AR-15 market and court high-risk users, all at the expense of Americans' safety. Today's decision is a critical step toward achieving that goal," Koskoff said.
Legal experts have said any appeal of the ruling by the gunmaker would likely be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court, where it could face steep legal hurdles.
The tragedy led then-President Barack Obama to urge federal gun control legislation, but proposals died on Capitol Hill.
The 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA, has provided the U.S. firearms industry an almost impenetrable defense against lawsuits by victims of mass shootings and gun violence, broadly shielding Remington and others such as American Outdoor Brands Corp, Sturm Ruger & Co and Vista Outdoor Inc from liability stemming from such incidents.
Since Sandy Hook and subsequent school shootings, most federal efforts at gun control or gun rights expansion have faded and the bulk of firearms legislation has been in state legislatures across the country. (Reporting by Tina Bellon; Editing by Dan Grebler)