For the past two years the families of the victims who died at Sandy Hook have been seeking to satisfy their own warped sense of justice. In December of 2014 they filed a lawsuit against the Remington Arms company, because one of their AR-15 rifles was used in the mass shooting. If you’re unfamiliar with this case, you may be wondering why gun companies haven’t been sued into oblivion by countless families who have lost loved ones to various violent crimes.
The reason why has to do with what’s known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. This law prevents gun manufacturers from being subject to frivolous lawsuits, like the one Remington is currently facing. These companies can’t be held liable for the actions of their consumers, certainly no more than a car company is responsible for road rage, or an alcohol company is responsible for accidents.
The only stipulation in this law is known as “negligent entrustment.” If a gun company or gun store knowingly sells a weapon to a person who is clearly insane, intoxicated, or would obviously commit a crime, then they can be held liable for any damages that person causes. These Sandy Hook families believes that the way Remington advertised this weapon, makes them liable under the negligent entrustment clause.
Because they advertised this weapon to civilians, a weapon that is normally used by the military, who only give it to people who are properly trained and vetted to use it, they are responsible. And because they used violent video games like Call of Duty to advertise it, they are responsible. These families are basically saying that Remington’s advertising attracts violent people, or that they knowingly sold weapons to people they knew were unfit to operate them.
Of course that ignores the fact that Adam Lanza didn’t buy the gun, but actually stole it from his mother, and it ignores the fact that there are plenty of rifles purpose-built for civilians that do the same exact thing as an AR-15. It also ignore the fact that there are plenty of civilian rifles that are far more lethal than an AR-15, and that rifles are very rarely used for any crime. Anyone who actually owns and uses firearms knows that this lawsuit is absolutely ridiculous, and should be thrown out.
Unfortunately it hasn’t been thrown out. The reason why this lawsuit has been up in the air for two years, is because the courts have been trying to decide if Remington can even be legally sued in the first place. And now our court system has made a decision.
In a decision that could have huge ramifications in a country where up to 10,000 people a year lose their lives to gun violence, a judge refused a request by the manufacturer of the weapon to dismiss the lawsuit, and instead ruled that it could proceed.
Judge Barbara Bellis said the federal law protecting gun makers from lawsuits did not override the “legal sufficiency” of the claims by the Sandy Hook families that the gun used by Adam Lanza should never have been made available for sale to civilians.
You can see why this might set a dangerous precedent right? Like I said, there are plenty of other firearms that do the same kind of damage as an AR-15 and require the same kind of training to operate safely. And in a sense, all firearms are advertised for their lethality in one way or another. If these people can sue, then where do we draw the line? Let’s hope and pray they don’t win, or it could spell the end of America’s gun industry.
Written by Joshua Krause