Progressives never cease trying to undermine the Second Amendment. One of their oldest tactics has been to sue firearm manufacturers whenever a lunatic misuses a firearm to injure or kill others. Fortunately, in 2005, Congress passed, and George W. Bush signed, the Protection of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act. The law simply affirms common product liability law that manufacturers cannot be held liable for second party misuse of their lawful products. As with all other consumer goods, if a firearm has manufacturing defects, or the manufacturer engages in criminal acts, they may still be sued. The purpose of the law is to prevent lawfare, lawsuits designed to bankrupt gun manufacturers to obtain gun bans anti-liberty forces cannot obtain through the legislative process. The Constitution, to their rage, gets in the way.
Since 2005, multiple lawsuits have been filed against manufacturers, and all, to date, have been dismissed because of the provisions of the Act. Perhaps the most notable recent attempt has been made by a group of parents of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, which occurred in Newtown, CT on 12-14-12. Following that attack, then-President Obama unsuccessfully tried to rouse political fervor for more gun control measures.
My articles on the Sandy Hook attack and its aftermath are:
A basic AR-15 primer, for those seeking more information on the subject of this article, may be found here.
In October of 2015, In Sandy Hook: The Bloody Flag Yet Waves, I wrote:
The judge ruled the lawsuit does not satisfy the exception to federal law preventing lawsuits against gun manufacturers for the actions of gun owners under either the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) or the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA).
‘Although PLCAA provides a narrow exception under which plaintiffs may maintain an action for negligent entrustment of a firearm, the allegations in the present case do not fit within the common-law tort of negligent entrustment under well-established Connecticut law,’ the judge wrote. ‘A plaintiff under CUTPA must allege some kind of consumer, competitor, or other commercial relationship with a defendant, and the plaintiffs here have alleged no such relationship.
By any measure, such a claim, which the survivors involved did not actually make, would have been ludicrous. Lanza murdered his mother prior to his attack on Sandy Hook Elementary, and took her guns. He owned none. There is no doubt she would have stopped him if she could, thus his murder of her while she slept. There was no negligent entrustment.
Unfortunately, the Sandy Hook families and their attorneys refuse to take the law for an answer, as The New York Times reports:
The 10 families whose lawsuit against the world’s largest dealer of AR-15 rifles was dismissed last year say their case should be reinstated, arguing that the Sandy Hook massacre was no accident.
‘The notion that what happened at Sandy Hook on December 14, 2012, was unimaginable is a lie,’ argues the families’ lawyer, Josh Koskoff, in 50-page brief submitted to state Supreme Court this week. ‘Sandy Hook was simply gratuitous, senseless proof of what was already known: preparation is no match for an AR-15.’
The families’ argument that Remington is liable for the massacre of 26 first-graders and educators by an AR-15-wielding 20-year-old named Adam Lanza was thrown out of Superior Court in October. The judge ruled that Remington is protected by federal law against claims when people misuse firearms.
The families are sticking to their argument that Remington was liable, saying the company purposely marketed the semi-automatic rifle to civilians.
Koskoff’s argument is essentially that Remington, and any manufacturer of AR-15 pattern rifles, must know that every rifle they sell will inevitably be used to murder people, in this case, specifically, children and teachers. This is, of course, an impossible standard for any consumer product. It’s akin to arguing that the manufacturers of any motor vehicle must know those vehicles will inevitably be used by drunk drivers to kill innocents. It should also be remembered that firearms are among the most tightly controlled consumer products made. Manufacturers sell to wholesalers, wholesalers sell to retail dealers and retail dealers sell to citizens, federal paperwork/permission being required for every transaction and every single firearm in the long process.
The families argue that the Remington rifle used by Lanza was developed ‘as a weapon of war so powerful, so accurate and so destructive to the human body, it vanquished the need for skilled hands or forgiving terrain.’
‘Over the last several decades, scores of Americans – not soldiers but civilians – have witnessed firsthand the effects of that mechanical prowess – not on battlefields, but in malls, movie theaters, places of worship and schools,’ Koskoff writes in the families’ brief.
‘(Remington) did not question the wisdom of selling the military’s superlative combat weapon to civilians.
If one buys Koskoff’s argument, a single AR-15 is a weapon of mass destruction, so accurate and deadly one need no training or tactics to use it to lay waste to nations. In reality, the AR-15 is the most popular and common sporting rifle sold in America. It fires an intermediate–not a high-powered–rifle cartridge, which is far less powerful and has less range than standard WWII military rifles. AR-15s available to the public are semiautomatic rifles, not fully automatic rifles. Arguments about the AR-15 cartridge’s relatively weak combat performance are well known in professional circles. One expects attorneys to zealously represent their client’s positions, but Koskoff is simply lying, which legal ethics proscribe.
The families argue that Remington is liable because it negligently marketed the AR—15 to Lanza’s generation.
‘Where others feared the catastrophic risk posed by these weapons, Remington saw a different problem: insufficient civilian demand for the AR-15,’ Koskoff writes in the families’ brief. ‘Its solution was to develop a new market among ‘a younger demographic of users’ and to do so by employing a targeted marketing campaign linking the AR-15 to macho vigilantism and military style insurrection.
Even if Koskoff could produce Remington advertising of the grossly exaggerated kind he alleges, it would be irrelevant. Remington produces, like a great many other manufacturers, a completely legal product that functions as it is designed to function. By the time the Sandy Hook shooter murdered his mother and stole her AR-15, the weapon had gone from the manufacturer to a wholesaler, to a dealer, to his mother, and finally, to him. No one could possibly have foreseen what the killer would do, including multiple mental health professionals who examined him over many years. Remington had no relationship whatever with the killer, or even with his mother. There could have been no negligent entrustment.
The families’ case was considered a longshot from the start. But as the case progressed through Superior Court to the point where a trial date was set in 2018, observers began to view it as a potential landmark case. [skip]
But the debate was beside the point: The law allows claims against the industry if people can prove a company negligently entrusted a firearm to the public.
The families’ appeal seeks to reverse the Superior Court decision and return the lawsuit to pre-trial preparations.
‘[The] ten families whose lives were shattered on December 14, 2012, do not seek to hold defendants liable for simply selling a weapon used by a young school shooter,” the brief reads. ‘[T]hey seek to hold defendants liable for their own specific wrongdoing.
Obviously, Koskoff hopes the Connecticut Supreme Court will be progressive enough to ignore federal law and write their own law to bolster this particular preferred progressive narrative. This, sadly, is possible, which could throw the case back to the lower court, and inevitably, to the federal courts, where a sufficiently progressive judge or judges might also ignore federal law.
The point is clear. No law, no matter how clear, is sufficient to stop those that would steal liberty and disarm the law-abiding. Progressives know that an armed population is the most effective possible barrier to their totalitarian, utopian desires, so they will never rest until only their storm troopers are armed.
The agony of the Sandy Hook survivors is unimaginable. No person of good will can help but to empathize with them and pray that they may one day find peace. However, destroying the Second Amendment helps no one and harms all.
Sandy Hook Elementary School is no more. The sounds of children’s laughter and footsteps no longer echo. Its ghosts have been dispelled and all that remains is a memorial for those lost. All we can do is pray for their souls, and for their survivors in the hope they can move on with life, and allow others, who will always need the protection of common and usual firearms, to do the same.