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Sandy Hook lawyers to Bass Pro: Stop selling assault rifles

March 3, 2018 GMT

The lawyers for nine families of Sandy Hook shooting victims has sent a letter to the founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, asking him to stop selling military-style, semiautomatic rifles in the chain’s stores.

In the letter, dated Wednesday, attorneys Josh Koskoff and Katie Mesner-Hage of Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder appealed to a sense of higher calling that Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris has expressed.

“We imagine that when you began selling fishing tackle out of the back of your father’s liquor store in 1972, you probably didn’t even envision the scope of what Bass Pro Shops would become. But from the beginning, you’ve been pursuing something more than profit -- something more consequential,” the letter said. “What matters, you recognized, is what we leave our children....Do not allow the company you built to be complicit in the next senseless massacre.”

“We write to urge you...to immediately halt all sales of assault rifles nationwide.”

As of Saturday, neither the law firm nor a reporter seeking comment had heard back from outdoor outfitter Bass Pro, which is based in Missouri.

Four other large retailers said this week they would limit sales of firearms in the aftermath of the Feb. 14 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead, including 14 students. Dick’s Sporting Goods said it would stop selling military-style rifles; Walmart, which stopped selling the so-called black rifles in 2015, raised the age of purchase for firearms to 21, as did L.L. Bean, which sells guns only in its flagship store in Maine, and Kroger, the grocery giant that sells guns through its Fred Meyer stores in western states.

Representatives of the gun industry, including the National Shooting Sports Foundation in Newtown, which represents manufacturers and retailers, have not commented directly on the retailers’ moves but have said limiting sales is not an effective way to prevent mass shootings. The issue is keeping guns out of the hands of unauthorized people, NSSF said in posts this week.

Koskoff and Mesner-Hage sent the letter on behalf of the families of five first-graders and four adult educators who were killed on Dec. 14, 2012 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Those families, through the Koskoff firm, are suing the maker and distributor of the Bushmaster AR-15 used in the Sandy Hook shooting. The Connecticut Supreme Court is expected to decide this spring whether the lawsuit can go forward in Superior Court, where it was dismissed in 2016.

Bass Pro has a store in Bridgeport and also owns Cabela’s, which has a location in East Hartford. Military-style rifles are banned for sale in Connecticut.

“This new generation is the future you vowed to protect, Mr. Morris, and they are literally fighting for their lives,” the letter said. “It is never too late to do the right thing.”