Sandy Hook Gun Settlement Marks a Turning Point

Survivors of Sandy Hook school shooting victims recently announced a $73 million settlement with insurers for the now-bankrupt Remington Arms, maker of the rifle used in the killings in 2012. The case centered on allegations Remington marketed the weapon in a way that encouraged illegal violence. Jacob D. Charles, executive director at Duke University Center for Firearms Law, discusses the settlement’s significance for future lawsuits against gun makers.

Family members of those killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting announced a $73 million settlement on Feb. 15 with insurers for the now-bankrupt Remington Arms, manufacturer of the Bushmaster rifle used in the killings. The case centered on allegations that Remington marketed the rifle in a way that encouraged illegal violence.

That settlement comes less than two years after the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that a formidable federal barrier to such lawsuits, the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), does not immunize manufacturers from claims that wrongful advertising resulted in injury or death.

The Sandy Hook settlement will serve as a significant landmark for at least two reasons. First, the Connecticut Supreme Court’s ruling opens a major hole in PLCAA’s immunity bar, and, with the case settled, that ruling now stands as the last legal word on the case. Second, the large settlement amount is sure to encourage other attempts to hold firearm sellers liable for gun violence.

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