Several families who lost children in the Sandy Hook massacre and one teacher who was shot but survived can now take the manufacturers who sold the semiautomatic rifle used in the shooting to court, after a Connecticut Supreme Court ruling Thursday.
If the families do go to trial, it could mean that gun manufacturers will have to “turn over internal communications that they have fiercely fought to keep private,” according to the New York Times, and could paint a damning portrayal of the industry as a whole.
The families are arguing that Remington, the gunmaker that manufactured the Bushmaster rifle used by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook shooting, marketed it as a military-style weapon, according to the Times. Advertising campaigns played on tired and dangerous ideas of masculinity (with slogans like “Consider your man card reissued”), and the lawsuit argues that such a gun should have never wound up in the hands of Lanza:
Lawyers pointed out advertising — with messages of combat dominance and hyper-masculinity — that resonated with disturbed young men who could be induced to use the weapon to commit violence.
“Remington may never have known Adam Lanza, but they had been courting him for years,” Joshua D. Koskoff, one of the lawyers representing the families, told the panel of judges during oral arguments in the case in 2017.
Notably, Lanza himself did not buy the gun; his mother Nancy did, and Lanza shot and killed her before driving to Sandy Hook Elementary. But the link between toxic masculinity and gun violence is clear, as mass shooters almost inevitably have a history of domestic violence. Whether or not we want to pay attention to that is another story—but with the Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision, at least now the Sandy Hook families have a way to potentially hold gunmakers accountable for the messages they put out into the world.