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The weapon, the suit alleges, was deliberately chosen by Adam Lanza to use in his attack on Sandy Hook Elementary school for its "military and assaultive qualities, and in particular its efficiency in inflicting mass casualties." (Photo: Chris Juliano/cc/flickr)

Sandy Hook Families Sue Gunmaker for Selling Weapon with Single Purpose: 'Mass Shootings'

Bushmaster producer and distributor charged with making and marketing for civilians a 'combat weapon used for the purpose of waging war and killing human beings'

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Families of those killed in the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting tragedy are suing the companies that produce and sell the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, charging that those parties are purposely making and distributing a weapon built to inflict "unparalleled civilian carnage."

The suit, filed on Monday, comes a day after the two-year anniversary of the December 14, 2012 massacre, during which 20 first grade children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School by 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza.

The negligence and wrongful death suit singles out the maker, distributor, and seller of the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, model XM15-E25—the "weapon of choice" for Lanza. The suit accuses the defendants of producing, for a civilian market, a military-grade weapon designed for maximum "efficiency" and of deliberately using "militaristic marketing" tactics, which reinforce the image of the AR-15 as a "combat weapon used for the purpose of waging war and killing human beings."

The weapon, the suit alleges, was deliberately chosen by Lanza to use in his attack on Sandy Hook Elementary school for its "military and assaultive qualities, and in particular its efficiency in inflicting mass casualties."

"[T]here is one tragically predictable civilian activity in which the AR-15 reigns supreme: mass shootings," write the nine families named in the prosecution. "Time and again, mentally unstable individuals and criminals 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 plaintiffs include the families of students Vicki Soto, Dylan Hockley, Noah Pozner, Lauren Rousseau, Benjamin Wheeler, Jesse Lewis, Daniel Barden, Rachel D'Avino, and school psychologist Mary Sherlach, who were killed in the shooting, and teacher Natalie Hammond, who was injured in the shooting.

The civil suit, filed in Bridgeport, Conn., cites numerous other attacks when rifles like the AR-15 were used against civilians and notes that, despite these, the "Bushmaster defendants" continue to: entrust the AR-15 to the civilian population, produce the AR-15 to be compatible with large capacity magazines, and market them as combat weapons.

Despite a national call for action following the shooting, lawmakers have since failed to pass any national gun control legislation.

The suit continues: "The most chilling legacy of the entrustment of AR-15s to the general population may be that Americans are no longer shocked when combat weapons are used to kill people as they work, shop, commute, attend school, and otherwise go about their lives. We may be horrified, saddened, even sickened, but we can no longer be shocked."

According to the Daily Beast, the families of the student victims created estates in their children's names (with parents as administrators) so they could sue on behalf of the victims. The plaintiffs are claiming injuries and damages for those killed as "terror; ante-mortem pain and suffering; destruction of the ability to enjoy life's activities; destruction of earning capacity, and death."


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