Lawsuits against gun manufacturers were once the preferred response to almost any kind of shooting. Unlike any other product on the planet, gun makers were being held responsible for the unlawful acts committed by others. It was such a problem that Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. The purpose was to protect these companies from malicious and punitive lawsuits that stem from acts outside of their control.
However, the law didn’t stop them.
While most have been tossed out since the law’s passage one, in particular, hasn’t been. A court recently decided to ignore the law when it came to a lawsuit against Remington stemming from the horrible events at Sandy Hook.
Now, Remington is asking for the Supreme Court to hear the case.
The maker of the rifle used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal Thursday of a state ruling against the company.
Remington Arms, based in Madison, North Carolina, cited a much-debated 2005 federal law that shields firearms manufacturers from liability in most cases when their products are used in crimes.
Gunman [name of jackwagon gunman redacted so as to not give any publicity to other such jackwagons] opened fire at the Newtown, Connecticut, school with a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle on Dec. 14, 2012, killing 20 first graders and six educators. The 20-year-old gunman earlier shot his mother to death at their Newtown home, and killed himself as police arrived at the school. The rifle was legally owned by his mother.
A survivor and relatives of nine victims filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Remington in 2015, saying the company should have never sold such a dangerous weapon to the public and alleging it targeted younger, at-risk males in marketing and product placement in violent video games.
Citing one of the few exemptions in the federal law, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in March that Remington could be sued under state law over how it marketed the rifle to the public. The decision overturned a ruling by a trial court judge who dismissed the lawsuit based on the 2005 federal law, named the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
Should the Court agree to hear the case, it could well become a landmark ruling.
And, to be honest, there are several avenues for the Court to approach it.
On one hand, there’s the Second Amendment avenue which is the most obvious. The lawsuit claims the weapon is “dangerous” to the public. Now, this is the most popular firearm in the nation and we’re not all dead by any stretch of the imagination. If this is allowed to stand, though, there will be other lawsuits, possibly to the point that the most important firearm in the nation–the very one Americans would need to fend off a tyrannical government–would be virtually impossible to buy and sell because no company could afford the liability.
I suspect that would factor into the Courts thinking, at least to some degree.
On the other hand, though, is a free speech angle. The lawsuit holds Remington responsible for Sandy Hook due to how the gun was marketed. Companies have the same free speech rights that we as individuals do. While saying it would be ideal for shooting up a school might be going way too far, the company merely marketed the weapon as a military-style firearm for people who were wanting that sort of thing.
Yet if that argument is considered persuasive by the courts, what kind of Pandora’s box would it open? Would automakers suddenly become liable for car accidents because they market the high speeds and quick acceleration of their sports cars, for example?
Companies should be free to market their products as they see fit, with the exception of outright lying to the public.
My hope is that the Supreme Court will hear this case, then slap it down hard. This kind of nonsense exists just to try and use the civil courts to create de facto gun control. After all, it doesn’t matter if AR-15s are legal if you can’t find one to buy, right?
It’s time for the Court to step in and put an end to this nonsense once and forever.
Watch the latest from Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co: