By Jon Dougherty
One legal strategy the #neverguns Left has been pursuing in recent years in their attempt to neuter the Second Amendment and chill gun rights is to sue weapons makers in an attempt to hold them responsible for mass shootings.
Thanks to a decision Thursday by the Connecticut Supreme Court, Leftist anti-gunners are now one step closer to their objective.
As The Associated Press reported, a divided court ruled that a lawsuit against gunmaker Remington can proceed over the way the company marketed the rifle that was used to kill 20 children and six school officials at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
The AP noted:
Gun control advocates touted the ruling as providing a possible roadmap for victims of other mass shootings to circumvent a long-criticized federal law that shields gun manufacturers from liability in most cases when their products are used in crimes. Gun rights supporters bashed the decision as judicial activism and overreach.
In a 4-3 decision, justices reinstated a wrongful death lawsuit against Remington and overturned the ruling of a lower court judge, who said the entire lawsuit was prohibited by the 2005 federal law. The majority said that while most of the lawsuit’s claims were barred by the federal law, Remington could still be sued for alleged wrongful marketing under Connecticut law.
“The regulation of advertising that threatens the public’s health, safety, and morals has long been considered a core exercise of the states’ police powers,” Justice Richard Palmer wrote for the majority, noting he didn’t believe Congress envisioned complete immunity for gun-makers.
Translation: “I don’t care what law the federal government passed; I’m angry about guns and I’m going to allow this suit to proceed with the hopes that it’s successful.”
The ruling means that a survivor of the incident along with the relatives of nine people killed at the school can move forward with their suit, despite a tenuous argument, at best. The plaintiffs claim that Remington marketed the Bushmaster AR-15 type rifle used by the shooter, Adam Lanza, is far too dangerous for the general public. What’s more, they argue that the company “glorified” — AP’s word — the rifle in the way it was marketed to young people, including those who were diagnosed with a mental illness.
Madison, North Carolina-based Remington has argued — correctly, we would note — that it has no liability for what an individual does with a lawful firearm. In addition, the company has said it can’t be sued because it’s covered under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
As a reminder, Lanza stole the gun he used in the shootings from his mother after he killed her, then shot his way into a locked school. He never purchased the rifle himself, so there isn’t any way Remington can be held liable for ‘marketing’ the gun to him, in particular. Also, his possession of firearms in Connecticut was already illegal. As Dana Sherne noted at Mic shortly after the incident:
Connecticut law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from owning a gun; Lanza was 20 years old. Connecticut also has a “safe storage” provision that makes it a crime if a gun is accessible to a minor; Lanza was not a minor. Rifles and shotguns can be purchased without a permit, after a two-week waiting period. Handguns, on the other hand, require a permit before either purchasing or carrying them. But none of the restrictions applied; the guns were not Lanza’s guns.
Legal experts see little likelihood the lawsuit will succeed because of the 2005 law, the AP noted. But they say it’s possible that, through the discovery process, plaintiffs’ lawyers may be able to uncover something embarrassing for Remington that might provide an avenue for a separate lawsuit.
The Left knows it can’t repeal the Second Amendment so they have shifted their objective to suing American gun makers out of business while driving foreign arms makers out of the domestic American gun market. The Connecticut Supreme Court just gave them an assist.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10