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Sandy Hook Court Settlement Has Gun Rights Supporters Furious

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A court settlement between the firearms manufacturer Remington and relatives of victims of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School has Second Amendment advocates crying foul.

Court documents filed in Connecticut Superior Court on Tuesday revealed that a civil case between the parties, which had been in litigation since 2015, ended in a settlement.

Relatives of children who were killed in the attack announced in a Tuesday news conference that they had agreed to accept a $73 million settlement from Remington, according to The Associated Press.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry advocacy group, is taking aim at the settlement.

A representative for the NSSF told The Reload that Remington’s lawyers would have won the case if it had gone to court, and that the decision to settle was made by insurers who are overly averse to risk.

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“The settlement was reached between the plaintiffs and the various insurance carriers that held policies with [Remington Outdoors Company], which effectively no longer exists,” said NSSF spokesman Mark Olivia, according to The Reload. “We remain confident ROC would have prevailed if this case had proceeded to trial.”

The NSSF says that the case does not create a legal precedent, but gun rights supporters have expressed concern over future lawsuits targeting manufacturers for the actions of third-party criminals.

A federal law, the Protection in Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, protects gun manufacturers from liability in regards to the misuse of their products. The case legally tested the extent of the 2006 law’s protections.

Is this settlement dangerous for Second Amendment rights?

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the Remington case had brought up the company’s advertising of Bushmaster AR-15 style rifles.

In an attempt to get around the 2006 law, The Reload reported, the lawsuit argued that advertising for the weapon played a role in motivating 20-year-old Adam Lanza to kill his mother, Nancy Lanza, with her own rifle, then use the weapon in the school attack in Newtown, Connecticut.

Lanza killed 26 victims, including 20 children ages 6 and 7, before taking his own life.

The case may pave the way for new, progressive “lawfare” attacks on American gun rights. Legislative attempts at gun control have ended as flops for both President Joe Biden and President Obama, with the latter expending considerable political capital on the issue to no result.

It’s possible that liberals in jurisdictions favorable to their views could secure large court judgments against gun companies in lawsuits inspired by Remington’s settlement.

“The settlement also does not alter the fundamental facts of the case,” Olivia said of the deal.

“The plaintiffs never produced any evidence that Bushmaster advertising had any bearing or influence over Nancy Lanza’s decision to legally purchase a Bushmaster rifle, nor on the decision of murderer Adam Lanza to steal that rifle, kill his mother in her sleep, and go on to commit the rest of his horrendous crimes.”

Remington declared bankruptcy in 2018, with some speculating the company’s business troubles motivated its lawyers to settle the civil case.

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The company, the oldest gun manufacturer in the United States, relocated its headquarters from New York to Georgia last year.

FBI crime statistics reveal that violent crimes with so-called “assault weapons” are rare in the U.S., despite high-profile school shootings and massacres involving their use.

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