Yesterday The Daily Signal posted an article about a recent lawsuit regarding the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. The parents of the children who were killed have sued the manufacturers of the guns used in the shooting.
The article reports:
It is important to remember that the rifle used by Adam Lanza, a semi-automatic AR-15, had been legally bought by his mother, Nancy Lanza. Lanza killed her while she was sleeping before he headed to the elementary school and engaged in his killing spree. In fact, some of the families blamed Nancy Lanza for what happened, saying that she knew about her son’s mental problems and “ignored all the signs” of his “increasing instability.”
The parents subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit in state court against Bushmaster Firearms, Remington Arms, and a host of other firearms manufacturers. The families claim that the manufacturers acted “unethically, oppressively, immorally, and unscrupulously” in marketing the “assaultive qualities and military use of AR-15s to civilian purchasers.”
I don’t mean to be difficult, but the manufacturers had nothing to do with the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The article reports:
Of course, the main problem faced by the plaintiffs is that this lawsuit is absolutely barred by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 (PLCA). The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush to stop these types of emotionally-charged lawsuits against gun manufacturers. Codified at 15 U.S.C. §7901-7903, the Congressional “Findings” specifically state that businesses that manufacture, market, distribute, import or sell firearms should not “be liable for the harm caused by those who criminally or unlawfully misuse” such weapons. Such civil liability lawsuits “may not be brought in any Federal or State court.”
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act provides only limited exceptions to this prohibition. One exception is for lawsuits claiming a normal product liability issue, such as the harm caused by a weapon that contained a design or manufacturing defect that caused it to malfunction. Or if the manufacturer deliberately sold the gun to someone who is prohibited from owning a guns—like a felon. Or if the manufacturer encouraged a gun owner to misuse the weapon in a way that led to the harm.
What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School was horrific. A mentally ill young man managed to get hold of a gun and went on a killing spree. Unfortunately, the way our laws are currently written, this was not a preventable crime. The laws that cover committing a person to a mental hospital have gotten complicated, and it was reported that the young man’s mother was attempting to have him hospitalized because of his mental state. Unfortunately, she was not able to complete that complex process before her son killed her. Maybe the answer is a review of our mental health policies–not suing people who are not responsible for the crime.