The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 made it difficult, if not impossible, for gun violence victims and family members to seek restitution from gun manufacturers by affording gun makers protection from litigation except in cases in which the manufacturer had prior knowledge that the purchaser intended to use the weapon to commit a crime and sold the firearm to the individual anyway. The rationale behind the law seems to be that gun makers should be no more responsible for deaths related to use of their products than automobile manufacturers should be responsible for drunk driving deaths. However, according to The Motley Fool, the Connecticut Supreme Court recently issued a ruling that could undo the protections in place shielding gun manufacturers from product liability lawsuits.
Remington Arms is a Connecticut-based weapon manufacturer that produced the Bushmaster XM15 semiautomatic rifle used to kill six adults and 20 children in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Parents of some of the children killed in the attack subsequently brought a lawsuit against Remington under the state’s Unfair Trade Practices Act, claiming that the manufacturer’s marketing of the rifle as a “military-style” weapon contributed to the attack. The recent Connecticut Supreme Court hearing allows the lawsuit to proceed, stating that the question of whether promotional marketing schemes rise to the level of illegal trade practices should be for a jury to decide.
Should the jury rule in the plaintiffs’ favor, Remington is likely to appeal the decision, where an overturn seems likely. However, if a jury finds Remington liable, it could prompt more states to pass similar laws regarding marketing practices.
The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.