Sandy Hook families to get day in court against gunmaker

In a photo taken on Dec 14, 2012, Lynn and Christopher McDonnell, the parents of Grace McDonnell, grieve near Sandy Hook Elementary after learning their daughter was one of 20 school children and six adults killed after a gunman opened fire inside the school. PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Families of victims in the Sandy Hook school massacre that killed 20 children and six adults will get their day in court about nine years from the shooting.

A trial date in September 2021 has been set for the lawsuit brought by them against Remington over its marketing of the assault-style rifle used in the shooting.

"After nearly five years of legal manoeuvring by Remington, we will finally discover what went on behind closed doors that led to the company's reckless marketing of the Bushmaster AR-15," Mr Josh Koskoff, a lawyer for the victims, said in a statement.

The lawsuit was filed in 2014 by the family members of nine people slain and one survivor of the 2012 massacre. Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis in Waterbury, Connecticut set the court date after about two hours of talks with lawyers for both sides.

"The families' faith in the legal system has never wavered and they look forward to presenting their case to a Connecticut jury," Mr Koskoff added.

Remington did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment outside regular working hours.

The plaintiffs have argued that the Bushmaster AR-15 gun - a semi-automatic civilian version of the US military's M-16 - had been illegally marketed by the company to civilians as a combat weapon for waging war and killing human beings.

The company has argued that it should be insulated from the lawsuit by a 2005 federal law known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which was aimed at blocking a wave of lawsuits damaging to the firearms industry.

Connecticut's highest court, in a 4-3 ruling, said in March that families of the schoolchildren gunned down in the massacre can sue Remington.

The company appealed against that ruling to the United States Supreme Court, which last month declined to shield the gunmaker from the lawsuit.

The Dec 14, 2012 rampage was carried out by 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who shot his way into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and fired on first-graders and adult staff before fatally shooting himself as police closed in.

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