Newtown Families' AR-15 Suit Is Chugging Along—Surprisingly
That's not to say its chances look good
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2016 7:12 AM CDT
In this Jan. 28, 2013, file photo, a firearms training unit detective for the Connecticut State Police holds up a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, the same make and model of gun used by Adam Lanza.   (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

(Newser) – In the wake of the Orlando shooting, the New York Times takes a look at how Newtown, Conn., families' battle against the semi-automatic weapon used is faring—and the answer is surprisingly well, at least compared with expectations. That's not to say their suit has gone far: The case against the maker and retailers of the AR-15—a Bushmaster, in Newtown's case; an "aesthetically similar," equally lethal, yet "internally ... different beast" Sig Sauer MCX rifle was used in Orlando, notes the Washington Post—is 18 months old, and if it goes to trial, it won't be for another two years. But few expected it to get as far as it has. Connecticut Judge Barbara N. Bellis refused to dismiss the case, established a trial date (which "startled" some plaintiffs), and ordered that the discovery phase begin, though the case may still not go to trial. Bellis must make that determination by October; each side will plead its position a final time on Monday.

Even if a trial does occur, the Guardian paints the suit as having a "remote chance of success." The suits' defendants—manufacturer Remington, a distributor, and a local gun shop—reference the 2005 federal shield law that has stopped most would-be suits by victims of gun violence, as it provides the makers and sellers with immunity when their guns are used in a crime. And so the plaintiffs are going after them via a "creative legal move," per the Guardian: The shield doesn't cover negligent entrustment, in which someone who shouldn't have a gun is sold one. While Nancy Lanza legally purchased the gun used by her son in the Sandy Hook massacre, the families are arguing that it's negligent for any American to be able to buy a "high-velocity ... weapon of war," as the Times puts it.