Can U.S. gunmakers be liable for mass shooting -Breaking
(Reuters] – A gunman aged 18 stormed a Texas school Tuesday morning and murdered 19 students and their teachers. The incident rekindled a US debate over gun control laws and legal liabilities for gun manufacturers.
This is an overview of the court’s attempts to hold mass shooting victims responsible for their deaths.
Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, 2005 (PLCAA), has granted gun sellers and manufacturers near-universal immunity from criminal liability. The law was passed following several suits brought by cities to hold firearm dealers and gun manufacturers liable.
DO YOU HAVE ANY EXCEPTIONS
Yes. There are several PLCAA provisions that permit a company’s legal rights. This includes claims it has knowingly broken laws related the the marketing of the product.
In 2019, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that federal law allowed some families to file a suit on behalf of Sandy Hook Elementary School victims. Remington was sued by the families for allegedly encouraging criminal use of its Bushmaster rifle.
Remington filed two times for bankruptcy in the course of the case and agreed to pay $73 million to the families, making it the first settlement like this.
The Indiana Court of Appeals also ruled in 2019 that PLCAA was not preventing Gary from pursuing a lawsuit against gun manufacturers under Indiana’s public nuisance law. You can hold defendants liable for harm done to public goods, such as community safety. In this case, the city said that manufacturers were aware of illegal handgun sale and did not prevent it.
Two federal appeals courts have however ruled PLCAA is ineffective for public nuisance lawsuits because it doesn’t cover the sale and marketing of firearms.
AUTOTHER LEGAL CASES
Other cases have been filed following the Connecticut Supreme Court decision. They seek to take advantage of exemptions in PLCAA.
Victims of a 2019 mass shooting at a California synagogue sued Smith & Wesson, saying the company negligently marketed the AR-15 style rife used by the shooter. The argument that Smith & Wesson was not allowed to sue under the PLCAA was rejected by a state judge last year.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled that Luckygunner.com was not covered by PLCAA in a case on behalf of students who were injured during a shooting at a Santa Fe high school. This company was accused of knowingly violating the law which makes it illegal for ammunition to be sold to minors.
Mexico last year sued Smith & Wesson Brands Inc and Sturm, Ruger & Co and other firearm makers for the flood of weapons across the border from the United States. Plaintiffs claim that the firms designed, market, and distributed military-style assault guns in ways that would empower drug cartels and fuel murders and kidnappings.
They argued that they could not be held responsible for Mexican crimes arising from the legal sale of their products to America.
Boston judge who is overseeing this case has raised concerns that the continuation of the case could lead to the disintegration of the PLCAA.
RECENT LEGISLATIVE EVENTS
New York’s Governor signed into law in July a bill that allowed firearm dealers, distributors, and manufacturers to be sued for creating a nuisance.
On Wednesday, a U.S. Judge ruled in favor of the firearms industry. They had sued to block this law and claimed it was prohibited by the PLCAA.
California Senators approved on Tuesday a bill that allows private citizens to sue anybody who makes, distributes or transports assault weapons.
Gavin Newsom is supporting the bill. The law is designed on Texas anti-abortion statute that is intended to circumvent federal law. The state assembly will be examining it.
LAWSUITS IMPLEMENT GUN RESERVATIONS
Gun rights activists have used courts to contest firearm restrictions. The U.S. Supreme Court will soon rule in a case involving New York’s limitations on concealed handguns being carried in public.
At November’s arguments, the conservative court stood ready to repeal the law.
Others lawsuits are against restraints include those against California’s bans on assault weapons and Maryland’s bans, which the challengers argue violates our constitutional right to bear arms.