Families of nine Newtown school shooting victims and one survivor have sued the companies that made, distributed and sold the rifle used to kill 20 children and six adults two years ago.
The 40-page wrongful death lawsuit, filed over the weekend in superior court in Connecticut, names as defendants Bushmaster, the gunmaker; Camfour, the distributor; and Riverview Sales, the gun shop that sold the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle used by Adam Lanza. It also names Riverview Sales owner David Laguercia. The suit claims that the companies disregarded the risks of selling a military-grade weapon to civilians to gain a profit.
A spokesperson for Bushmaster’s parent company said the firm does not comment on matters related to litigation. Camfour and Riverview Sales did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The AR-15 is described in the lawsuit as a “military weapon” that “has little utility for legitimate civilian purposes,” and the families accuse the gunmaker, distributor and seller of knowing that selling such a weapon to civilians means “individuals unfit to operate these weapons gain access to them.”
“In order to continue profiting from the sale of AR-15s, defendants chose to disregard the unreasonable risks the rifle posed outside of specialized, highly regulated institutions like the armed forces and law enforcement,” the lawsuit reads. “Plaintiffs seek nothing more and nothing less than accountability for the consequences of that choice.”
The suit adds: “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 families are seeking unspecified monetary damages and injuctive relief.
Laguercia pleaded guilty last year to federal misdemeanor charges for record-keeping violations unrelated to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Lanza’s mother bought the AR-15 from that store.
Two years and one day ago, Lanza killed 26 people before shooting and killing himself. Since then, families of some Sandy Hook victims have become politically active in advocating for gun control legislation, both in Congress and at the state level
A number of those families filed the lawsuit this week on behalf of the shooting victims’ estates, such as the family of Victoria Soto, a first-grade teacher, and student Dylan Hockley’s family. Teacher Natalie Hammond, who survived the mass shooting, is also one of the plaintiffs.
“These companies assume no responsibility for marketing and selling a product to the general population who are not trained to use it nor even understand the power of it,” William Sherlach told the Associated Press. Lanza killed Sherlach’s wife, Mary Joy.
Bushmaster has been sued before after mass shootings. In 2004, two survivors and the families of six victims in the 2002 Washington-area sniper shootings settled for $2.5 million after filing suit against Bushmaster and a gun shop. Attorneys for the plaintiffs in that case said it was the first time a gunmaker had to pay damages for crimes involving their weapons.