Those of us who follow the machinations of the gun industry have a high tolerance threshold for immoral actions. But the latest legal maneuver by lawyers for Remington, being sued in Connecticut court for irresponsible marketing of its product by the families of Sandy Hook victims, is enough to leave even the most cynical person speechless.
Defense attorneys trying to defend the gun-maker in a unlawful marketing lawsuit have subpoenaed the academic, attendance and disciplinary records for five of the first graders murdered by Adam Lanza, along with the employment records of four educators killed. The mind boggles and the stomach turns.
As the family’s attorney rightly replied, “The records cannot possibly excuse Remington’s egregious marketing conduct, or be of any assistance in estimating the catastrophic damages in this case. The only relevant part of their attendance records is that they were at their desks on Dec. 14, 2012.” At their desks on that day, and never again.
The impending trial is a landmark test of whether a gun-maker has broken a law barring reckless commercial behavior, the state’s Unfair Trade Practice Act. Remington (which has since declared bankruptcy and is now being defended in court by four insurance companies) sought to be shielded by a terrible federal law granting firearm manufacturers near-total immunity from lawsuits. Connecticut’s highest court ruled that statute doesn’t prevent the company from an alleged violation of state law, a decision the U.S. Supreme Court let stand.
The families’ theory is that in its attempts to sell as many of its military-grade assault rifles as possible, Remington knowingly targeted unstable young men like Lanza — the rough equivalent of tempting children to harm themselves by pushing poison in the shape and color of candy.
They’ve got a strong case, so strong that Remington’s defense has offered each of the nine families $3.6 million in a proposed settlement. Thirty-three million dollars is a lot of money. But it won’t be enough for the merchants of death to buy back their souls.