Could lawsuit against Remington test the federal PLCAA?

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When Congress passed the Protection in Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) in 2005, it was quickly signed by then-President George W. Bush, affording protection to the firearms industry from what it called “junk lawsuits” that sprang up across the country in municipalities controlled by anti-gunners apparently bent on bankrupting gun makers and retailers.

remington asks
The Supreme Court has cleared the way for a lawsuit against Remington to move forward in Connecticut. The lawsuit was filed by families of the Sandy Hook victims.

Cities including New Orleans and Atlanta had filed such lawsuits, attempting to hold gun makers responsible for crimes committed by people using firearms. Industry spent millions of dollars defending against those legal actions, and finally Congress took action.

But now the U.S. Supreme Court, in a decision setting off alarms across the “gun-scape,” has declined to hear an appeal brought by Remington Arms in a Connecticut case filed by families of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in December 2012.

As reported by NPR, the high court denied what was seen by anti-gunners as “a bid to block” the lawsuit.

The case is known as Remington Arms Co. v. Soto.

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As noted by Wikipedia, “both manufacturers and dealers can still be held liable for damages resulting from defective products, breach of contract, criminal misconduct, and other actions for which they are directly responsible in much the same manner that any U.S.-based manufacturer of consumer products is held responsible. They may also be held liable for negligent entrustment when they have reason to know a gun is intended for use in a crime.”

In this case, the firearms used in the Sandy Hook shooting were purchased by Nancy Lanza, mother of killer Adam Lanza, who took his own life after murdering 20 school children and six adults on Dec. 14, 2012. Adam Lanza killed his mother before taking her guns to the school.

This case may inevitably produce a collision between the federal law and a Connecticut statute known as the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUPTA), which can apparently penalize companies for the “sale or wrongful marketing” of the kind of firearm Lanza used in the school shooting.

Anti-gunners contend that rifles such as the Bushmaster used by Lanza should not be available to the commercial market, but only sold to the military and civilian law enforcement. Rights advocates counter that there is no such mandate in the Second Amendment to separate types of “arms” allowed for private ownership and those only allowed for the military.

Such guns are commonly owned by millions of Americans who haven’t harmed anyone.
According to Fox News, after the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled in a narrow 4-3 ruling this past March to allow the lawsuit to move forward, Remington “argued that the state court’s interpretation of the marketing exemption is, ‘intolerable given Congress’s ‘intention to create national uniformity'” with the federal law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.’” That law, Remington argued, was enacted to prevent this type of lawsuit.

The gun prohibition lobby and some Democrats now running for their party’s presidential nomination in 2020 want to repeal the PLCAA. While he contention is that the law gives unfair protection to gun makers, many in the firearms community believe the real motive is to allow an avalanche of legal actions that might bankrupt the gun industry.

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