This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, October 17, 2016:
Lawyers decided to attempt to nullify a law passed by Congress a decade ago protecting the gun industry from frivolous (and costly) lawsuits. The law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), signed into law by President George Bush in 2005, specifically and deliberately prohibits civil liability actions against any part of America’s gun industry for damages or injunctive or other relief resulting from the misuse – criminal or otherwise – of their products.
There’s an exception built into the law called “negligent entrustment” which those lawyers, representing families of victims murdered by Adam Lanza at the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012, tried to use as a wedge to open up potentially financially devastating lawsuits against the gun industry.
“Negligent entrustment” was defined in a 1992 case, Turner v. Lotts:
A plaintiff who invokes that doctrine must present evidence which creates a factual issue whether the owner knew, or had reasonable cause to know, that he was entrusting his car to an unfit driver likely to cause injury to others.
Furthermore, in order to impose liability upon the owner, the plaintiff must prove that the negligent entrustment of the motor vehicle to the [wrongdoer] was a proximate cause of the accident.
Change the word “car” to “firearm” and it makes sense: plaintiff must prove that the supplier/vendor “knew, or had reasonable cause to know” that Lanza was “likely to cause injury to others.”
The lawyers began with a lawsuit filed last December against Remington Arms, the maker of the Bushmaster rifle Lanza stole from his mother before shooting her and then 26 people at the school. The defendants also included the wholesaler who provided the firearm and the dealer who sold it to Lanza’s mother legally.
The judge of the Fairfield Connecticut District Superior Court, Barbara Bellis, saw through their attempt, and dismissed the suit on Friday:
Although PLCAA provides a narrow exception [for “negligent entrustment”] … the allegations in the present case do not fit within the common-law [understanding] of negligent entrustment.
Of course not. How could anyone stretch the “negligent entrustment” label to reach Remington, the wholesaler, or the gun shop owner when Lanza stole the gun from his mother?
But the case will be appealed. It’s not about fairness or justice for victims as claimed by Connecticut’s Governor Dannel Malloy who, upon learning that the lawsuit had been dismissed, said:
As I have stated before, the laws providing unique protections to gun manufacturers need to be changed to give crime victims a right to pursue legal remedies.
It’s about bankrupting, or the threat of bankrupting, America’s gun industry. That would shut down the freedom of citizens to purchase firearms, a key goal of the anti-gunners who have been frustrated at their inability to confront Second Amendment guarantees directly.
It’s also Hillary’s goal, more broadly stated in her party’s “briefing”:
[The] Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act [is] a dangerous law which prevents victims of gun violence from holding negligent manufacturers and dealers accountable for violence perpetrated with their guns.
It is past time to repeal this law and hold the gun industry accountable just like everyone else. [Hillary] voted against this law in 2005 and will lead the charge to repeal it as president.
What’s frustrating about this ruling is the claim from pro-gun enthusiasts that this was somehow a “great victory” in the long war against guns. It is not. It is merely a holding action in that long war.
A victory would be repeal of the father of nearly all anti-gun mischief in the country: the Gun Control Act of 1968. Now that would be a victory!
NPR.org: Judge Dismisses Newtown Families’ Lawsuit Against AR-15-Style Gun-Maker
NRAILA.org: Connecticut Judge Grants Immunity to Bushmaster in Case Seeking to Gut the PLCAA
Hillary Clinton Believes It’s Time to Act on Gun Violence
CTPost.com: Judge tosses Sandy Hook gun manufacturer lawsuit
Background on Judge Barbara Bellis
Background on “negligent entrustment”
Background on Remington Arms Company, LLC