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(Reuters) — The families of some of the 26 children and educators killed at a Connecticut elementary school in 2012 asked the state's top court on Tuesday to overturn a lower court's dismissal of their lawsuit against the maker of the gun used in the massacre.
A Connecticut Superior Court judge last month dismissed the 2014 lawsuit against Remington Arms, the North Carolina-based maker of the Bushmaster AR-15-style assault weapon used in the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
She ruled that the 2005 federal law known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act protected Remington from being sued when its products are used in an illegal manner. The families had argued that the gun never should have been sold because, they said, it had no legitimate civilian purpose.
The gun had been bought legally by the mother of 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza, whom he shot dead in their Newtown home before his rampage. He ended it by turning the weapon on himself when he heard the sirens of approaching police.
The appeal focuses on the common law principle of "negligent entrustment" to make the case that the weapon should not have been sold to Nancy Lanza, said Josh Koskoff, an attorney for the families. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages.
"Nothing will ever bring back my son," said Nicole Hockley, whose son, Dylan, was among the 20 6- and 7-year-olds killed in the Dec. 14, 2012, attack. "Our only goal in bringing this appeal is to help prevent the next Sandy Hook from happening."
Remington officials did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.
So-called assault rifles like the Bushmaster have been used in several recent mass shootings in the United States. They include the attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June that took 49 lives and was the deadliest shooting in U.S. history.
The AR-15 was developed from the U.S. military's M-16 rifle, used in the Vietnam War in the 1960s. Unlike the military version, the AR-15 is not fully automatic, meaning users must pull the trigger each time they want to fire a shot.
Connecticut lawmakers have approved an assistance program that will provide benefits to first responders who suffered psychological trauma from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn.