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Gunmaker’s ads influenced Adam Lanza to buy AR-15 assault rifle for Sandy Hook massacre, lawyer says

Gunmaker's ads influenced Adam Lanza to buy AR-15 assault rifle for Sandy Hook massacre, lawyer says New York Daily NewsNewtown Families Seek to Hold Gun Maker Accountable in Connecticut Court U.S. News & World ReportSandy Hook families push to reinstate lawsuit against gun manufacturer ABC NewsConnecticut Supreme Court Hears Newtown Families' Appeal Against Gun Companies New York TimesFull coverage

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Newtown mass shooter Adam Lanza epitomized the buyers wooed by the ad campaign mounted for the Bushmaster AR-15, a lawyer insisted Tuesday before Connecticut’s highest court.

Weapons manufacturer Remington Arms “had been courting (Lanza) for years,” attorney Josh Koskoff charged inside a jam-packed Hartford hearing.

“It wasn’t just that they marketed the weapon looking for people with the characteristics of Adam Lanza. It’s that Adam Lanza heard the message, and was driven specifically to the Bushmaster for his weapon for this combat mission.”

Koskoff noted the assault rifle was touted as the must-have weapon for any firefight, boasting that opponents were “single-handedly outnumbered” by an owner toting an AR-15.

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“Forces of opposition, bow down” was another marketing tag line for the particularly lethal weapon, as was “consider your man card reissued.”

POOL PHOTO; MANDATORY CREDIT

The Connecticut Supreme Court listens to attorney Josh Koskoff on arguments on whether gun maker Remington Arms should be held liable for the 2012 Newtown school massacre.

Lanza used the AR-15 to fire 154 bullets in about five minutes, executing 20 first-grade students and six staffers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School during his Dec. 14, 2012 rampage.

Koskoff represents the families of nine murder victims and one survivor of the school rampage.

Remington attorney James Vogts acknowledged the AR-15 was aggressively marketed, but insisted the manufacturer bore no legal liability for the mass shooting.

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“Obviously, all products’ manufacturers are trying to sell to the market,” Vogts told the panel of judges. “The purpose is to sell products. Emotional ads are commercial speech. They are under First Amendment protection.”

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Ian Hockley, whose son Dylan was among the slain schoolkids, accused Remington of marketing a battlefield weapon to a civilian market without regard for the deadly consequences.

“They could not care less what happens to their guns once the cash is in the bank, showing utter disregard for the lives this weapon takes and the families it destroys,” Hockley said.

“They actively market the weapons to unstable individuals. Take for instance their advertisement ‘consider your man card reissued.’ What could be more negligent than that?”

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No ruling was anticipated for several months in a case that drew national attention from groups on either side of the contentious gun control debate.

POOL PHOTO; MANDATORY CREDIT

Justice Richard N. Palmer questions James Vogts, a lawyer for Remington Arms, during a hearing at the state Supreme Court in a lawsuit filed by Sandy Hook families against the company.

The courtroom was packed with the loved ones of shooting victims and attorneys for special interest groups like the National Rifle Association.

Mass shooters, most recently including the killer of 26 people inside a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, used similar weapons in their attacks.

The plaintiffs charge the AR-15, initially designed for use by the military, was inappropriately marketed for sale to the general public.

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North Carolina-based Remington argued successfully in previous hearings that the guns are legal and the company is protected by the 2005 federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

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Ian Hockley (c.), seen with Nicole Hockley (l.), accused Bushmaster of marketing a battlefield weapon to a civilian market without regard for the consequences.

The case brought by the Newtown group was dismissed 13 months ago by a lower Connecticut court that agreed with Remington’s assertion.

The legislation generally protects weapons companies from liability for criminal use of their guns.

“What happened in that school that morning was horrific,” Vogts said. “It was a tragedy that will not be forgotten … Under the law, under federal law, under Connecticut law, the manufacturer of the product used by the criminal are not responsible for his crimes.”

Speaking outside court, Koskoff said the marketing scheme created by Remington indicated the lack of a moral compass within the company — and its management should be held responsible.

“What kind of society do we live in if the manufacturer has no skin in the game?” asked Koskoff. “What we have here is the conduct of a company that thought it was above the law.”

Vogts, in his argument to the court, put a far less menacing spin on AR-15 owners.

“This rifle is owned by millions of Americans across the country for hunting, target shooting and home protection,” he said.

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