The Sandy Hook Families' Lawsuit Against Bushmaster Will Fail. Here's Why.

We all feel a great deal of compassion for the families of the 20 students and 6 adults murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary by a deranged attacker* in December of 2012.  Most of us cannot imagine the pain of losing a child, and would not wish such a horror on anyone.

At the same time, we have to look at the frivolous lawsuit filed by fame-hungry lawyers against firearm manufacturer Bushmaster, a firearms distributor, and a gun store, and shake my head at the sheer stupidity of the case.

A law firm representing the families of nine of the 26 people killed and a teacher injured at the Sandy Hook Elementary School says it has filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer, distributor and seller of the rifle used in the shooting.

The negligence and wrongful death lawsuit asserts that the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle should not have been made publicly available because it is a military weapon unsuited for civilian use.

In addition to Bushmaster, the families have named Camfour, a firearm distributor, and Riverview Gun Sales, the store where the Bushmaster rifle was purchased in 2010. Messages seeking comment from the defendants were not immediately returned.

The Armalite AR-15 was designed in 1957, the year the first electric watch was created, New York City finally ended trolley car service, and Buddy Holly and the Crickets recorded “That’ll Be The Day.”

The “AR” in AR-15 stands for “Armalite,” a company that had previously developed a over-under rimfire rifle/shotgun (the AR-5) and the semi-automatic rimfire rifle (the AR-7) as survival hunting guns for adventurers and pilots.

AR-15s are semi-automatic firearms. Semi-automatic merely means “self-loading.”

When a semi-automatic is fired, some of the energy of a shot being fired is used to eject the empty cartridge and reload the chamber with a live round of ammunition.

Semi-automatic firearms have been around for 130 years, and semi-automatics are the most common rifles and pistols sold in the United States year-to-year.

AR-15s are not selective-fire (capable of being fired like a machine gun) as are their military cousins, the M16 rifle and M4 carbine. This is an important distinction that supporters of gun control have attempted to disguise for roughly 30 years since gun control supporter Josh Sugarmann first manufactured the term “assault weapon” in an attempt to confuse the American people.

The AR-15 itself has been sold on the U.S. civilian market since the Colt AR-15 Sporter was first advertised as a hunting rifle in 1963.

That same year, the selective-fire cousin of the AR-15, the XM16, began appearing in small quantities for jungle warfare testing in 1963 and a variant was adopted as the M16A1 in 1967. The M16A1 only became the military standard service rifle in Vietnam in 1969, six years after the AR-15 was established on the civilian market as a hunting and utility firearm.

It wasn’t until 1970 before the M-16A1 replaced the M-14 for the Army in the continental United States, Europe, and South Korea.

A 50-year-old ad for the Colt AR-15 Sporter hunting rifle from its introduction circa 1964.

The claim of the Sandy Hook families that the AR-15 design is “is a military weapon unsuited for civilian use” is an unsolicited and uneducated opinion, nothing more.

Purely as a matter of fact, the American gun purchasing public has found the platform to be incredibly well-suited for civilian use, and because of this fact, the AR-15 is the most common centerfire rifle sold in the United States year in and year out.

It has become so popular because the AR-15 is a mature technology that is lightweight, is reasonably powerful, has good ergonomics, and has great aftermarket support.

Purchasers of AR-15s like the fact that they can be fired by people of any size, are accurate and easy to modify for specific kinds of shooting using a wide range of aftermarket products. They are required or optional firearms in many target shooting disciplines, are increasingly used (in various calibers) as hunting firearms for most game animals in the United States. Many firearms experts also hold the opinion that the AR-15 is arguably the best self-defense firearm platform that a civilian may readily own in the United States.

Put bluntly, the Sandy Hook parents don’t have a viable case. They are acting on powerful emotions, but not on logic, and not on the law.

Expect for a judge to toss this case as being without merit almost immediately.

* Bearing Arms does not print the names of spree or  mass killers.