This Lawsuit Could Drive Up Gun Prices… Even If They Lose

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There is no question that the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting was absolutely horrible and should never have happened. And we would be wise to ask about what really can be done to prevent those kinds of tragedies from happening in the future. But the answer to that question is not something that people who want to blame guns and gun owners want to hear.

Why? Because the truth is that we can’t prevent people from doing terrible things. We simply don’t always get any warning. What we can do is make sure that a good guy with a gun is more likely to be on the scene to stop the situation from escalating into a mass shooting.

Now, you may not know this, but gun manufacturers have been protected against lawsuits from people who want to blame the gun manufacturer for the evil things that someone did with a weapon made by the company. This legislation is called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). The idea is simple: people are responsible for their own actions. Manufacturers are not responsible for when people do evil things.

And this makes sense to most people. After all, have you ever heard of a lawsuit against Ford or GM blaming them for when a drunk driver drove a car made by that company and injured or killed someone?

No? Neither have I. It’s common sense.

Unfortunately, though, activist judges in Connecticut appears to be seeking to get around the PLCAA and have ruled in a lawsuit brought by survivors of the Sandy Hook shooting and representatives of those killed in that shooting in a way that seems intended to bankrupt gun manufacturers. The NRA-ILA gives us the details:

They advanced a variety of legal theories as to why the PLCAA did not apply to their claims.

A trial judge dismissed all of these claims in an October 2016 ruling, which we reported on at the time.

The plaintiffs then appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court, which in a closely divided 4 to 3 ruling, found a pathway for the case to proceed.

The high court’s majority opinion focused on the exception for the violation of laws “applicable to the sale or marketing of the [firearm or ammunition]” that result in the plaintiff’s injuries.
In so doing, it had to resolve the question of whether that exception applies only to gun specific laws (like the ones used as examples in the act itself) or whether it could apply to any law that might conceivably be invoked against the manufacture or sale of a firearm or ammunition.

The court chose the broadest reading of that language, finding that it applied to any law used to bring a case against a firearm manufacturer or seller, whether or not that law was enacted with firearms in mind or even whether or not it had previously been used in the context of a firearm related claim.

The law the plaintiffs invoked was the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), which prohibits any person from “engag[ing] in unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce.”

The plaintiffs advanced two theories as to how this applied to the defendants’ behavior.

First, they asserted that any sale of an AR-15 to the civilian population was necessarily a fraudulent commercial practice, because (so they claimed) such firearms have no legitimate civilian use.

Never mind the fact that the AR-15 is, by all accounts, the most popular centerfire rifle in America, that it is owned by millions of law-abiding people who use it for every legitimate purpose for which a gun can be used.

It is also notable with respect to this claim that Congress enacted the PLCAA the year after it allowed the Clinton Gun Ban to expire in 2004. Congress was well aware that gun control advocates hate AR-15s and similar guns and want them permanently banned, but it did not exempt them from the PLCAA’s protection. Indeed, an important principle underlying the PLCAA is that the legislatures get to determine how to regulate firearms, not the courts.

The Connecticut Supreme Court, however, did not decide whether the sales and marketing of AR-15s to the general public is inherently fraudulent, finding only that the statute of limitations had expired on that particular claim. But the court at least left the door open for future such claims in other cases.

The second CUTPA theory the plaintiffs advanced was the outrageous accusation that Bushmaster intentionally marketed its version of the AR-15 to school shooters and other violent criminals and that the perpetrator of the Newtown crimes choose to use that gun at least in part because of this.

The supposed evidence the plaintiffs used for this claim was Remington ad copy that used militaristic images and language, appeals to patriotism, references to the gun’s use and proofing in combat.

These are, of course, the same advertising techniques used to sell any number of other lawful products to law-abiding people, from pants, to sunglasses, to boots, to vehicles.  The fact that a customer might appreciate knowing that an item – especially one for use in protecting his or her home and loved ones – performed well under demanding circumstances is hardly proof that it is purposely being marketed to deranged killers.

But that premise was enough for the Connecticut Supreme Court to require the defendants in the case to spend millions of dollars defending themselves from what is certain to be prolonged and costly litigation that publicly portrays the companies and their products in the most negative ways possible.

This was so, even though the majority acknowledged CUTPA had never been used to bring a firearm-related case in Connecticut and indeed had never even been applied to a personal injury case.

And if there was any remaining doubt about where the majority stood on the issue of AR-15s, they also included a totally unnecessary commentary suggesting the limits of the Second Amendment, which wasn’t even raised as an issue in the case. In particular, the court opined, “It is not at all clear … the second amendment’s protections even extend to the types of … rifles at issue in the present case.”

To their credit, three judges dissented from the majority opinion as it applied to the ability to use CUTPA to circumvent the PLCAA, even as they indicated their own disagreement with the choices Congress made with the Act.  “It is not the province of this court, under the guise of statutory interpretation, to legislate a particular policy, even if it were to agree that it is a better policy than the one endorsed by the legislature as reflected in its statutory language,” the Chief Judge wrote in his dissent.

With the viability of the PLCAA now in jeopardy, it is likely the defendants will appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Whether any intervention comes quickly enough to save the gun industry from a renewed campaign of frivolous litigation remains to be seen.

Look, the fact of the matter is that the claims that the lawyers used are nonsensical, just absolutely ludicrous. By this logic, likely every single who records rap music, or punk rock, or heavy metal, or any number of other kinds of music could be sued for what people did who happened to listen to that music.

Frankly, this is the kind of decision which should make the people of Connecticut think about impeaching the four judges who voted for this silly reasoning.

And we need to also pressure our representatives to fight back against this this type of harassment by gun control activists.

Remember, even if the Sandy Hook plaintiffs don’t succeed in their case against Remington, this ruling opens the door to other anti-gunners trying to get gun manufacturers to comply with their failed policies by making it more and more expensive for gun manufacturers to continue doing business by having to constantly defend themselves from these lawsuits.

If that happens, we all lose.

45 COMMENTS

  1. Guns don’t kill…PEOPLE DO. Most people who kill do show signs or give hints they’re planning on doing the deed. Friends and family have to learn how to pick up on these and get them help before the deed is done. Keep your eyes and ears OPEN…..

  2. A lot of rediculous convoluted double talk.
    Won’t fly.
    This one will go to the SC.
    This is a concerted effort to destroy America & our way of life.

  3. Handguns are more often used than rifles or shotguns. Handguns are most often used illegally to kill people. There is no way to ban illegal handguns or rifles generally. I see no way to ban any sort of firearm permanently anywhere in the world. Try banning people.

    • Build more prisons and lock up the criminals. Then throw the key away. Problem solved. Quit trying to take guns away from from decent, honest citizens! Read the Bill of Rights!

      • Instead of locking them up & throwing away the key so that the criminals get 3 square meals a day, air conditioning and heat, cable tv and internet, free medical and dental care on the taxpayers dime, maybe the death penalty in all 50 states for a murderer would be a better (and more cost efficient) deterrent. Do it in the town square on the day the murderers are convicted in cases where there is irrefutable evidence that they are GUILTY. Enough treating these people with kid gloves- an eye for an eye. Our tax money would be better spent on our schools anyway.

        • Agreed! Lets Revive “firing squads” Spend a dollar or so on a BULLET, “eliminate” the murderers, and MUCH money will be saved to be spent on those schools you speak of. One thing though, (just find some REAL TEACHERS to actually TEACH and not brainwash and INDOCTRINATE.

        • Actually I prefer the old “chain gang” philosophy, make them work for anything above basic life necessities. Food, water, shelter….anything more has to be earned.

      • they keep pushing this Crap to Disarm America completely they want Subjects NOT Citizens.

  4. Lets Ban Hammers. The FBI says hammers kill more people a year than all of the gun deaths combined.

  5. All Most always their is some type of Red Flag 🚩 befor some Goses Off the deep end and Comits some type of Serious Crime. A good lot of the time it is Ignores By the very People who could do someone like Law Inforcement Or maby friends or Relatives. Guns Do Not Kill Bad People Do.

  6. I am sooo tired of all of this.
    Had there been armed guards in the school this never would have happened.
    I’m sorry for the families, but still & all, remember this…. People who do this sort of thing are PREDATORS. They go after the weak &/or DEFENSELESS.
    If I were a teacher now a days I WOULD
    absolutely be fully armed & prepared.
    Further, there should be a “safe ” room in Every class room.Bullet proof glass (one way) to see out, and an armed person in each class.
    Class room doors should be locked when everyone is in the class.
    Have drills to teach exactly what to do should the worst happen.
    Get off the Gunn ban wagon.
    That isn’t the issue.
    The nut job criminal is the problem

  7. As long as there is no consequence for idiocy or the blatant disregard for the Constitution, these sorts of rulings will continue to be foisted on the citizens, businesses, and institutions of this nation by those who think to destroy our republic.
    Do you think that these “judges” would continue to put forth such rulings if there was a possibility of appropriate sanction?

  8. Lawyers will do anything for money, they are ambulance chasers. make them rembuarce gun manufactures all the money they have spent If people will just enforce laws already on the books. these non law issues. I’m sorry for the parents , people kill people whether with a gun , knife ,pipe ,bat,etc. the gun cannot fire without a person being behind it. Not all gun owners are killers.

  9. When are people going to finally get it?
    When guns are outlawed ONLY OUTLAWS will have guns.
    How in hell are people supposed to protect themselves and their loved ones and friends?

  10. The democrats and people who want to take everyone’s gun are just what happened in 1938 when Hitler took everyone’s guns and the took over the German government.PEOPIN AMERICA IF WANT TO CONTINUE LIVING IN A FREE COUNTRY THEN YOU HAD LOOK AT WHAT THE DEMOCRATS WANT THEY DONT CARE IF THE AMERICAN CITIZENS HAS A PLACE TO LIVE OR FOOD TO EAT BUT THE DEMOCRATS WILL GIVE ILLEGALS ANYTHING THEY WANT FREE HOUSING,FREE MEDICAL,FREE FOOD ,FREE WELFAREAND FREE EDUCATION.I DON’T CARE WHERE YOUR DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN OR INDEPENDENT WHEN A POLITICAL GROUPTURNS THEIR BACK ON THE AMERICAN CITIZENS AND GIVE HELP TO SOMEONE THAT AREN’T SUPPOSED TO BE HERE TO BEGIN WITH NEED TO BE VOTED OUT OF CONGRESS AND BARRED FROM EVER HOLDING OFFICE AGAIN.

    • Amen to that! I couldn’t agree more. All these idiot politicians who want to take care of illegals and not the citizens of this nation should also be stripped of all of their security measures and made to live in the sanctuary cities with all of the illegals too.

      • Ms. Wilson: I totally agree with what you say with the exception of the sanctuary city thing. Try to remember that scum rises to the top.

  11. What ever happened to the Consumer Product Safety Standard -If- A product is defective in materials or workmanship & it causes a preventable injury then you can sue !! This is the type of law if we don`t already have we really need.

  12. These leftist don’t and won’t get it until there’s a clear SCOTUS ruling that makes it impossible to propose legislation that’s blatantly unconstitutional. These proposals that deny due process, limit magazine capacity, weapons of war, or any law that infringes on the public’s right to keep and bear arms should be placed under an injunction and not be allowed to be voted on. These will be clearly unconstitutional and stop the nonsense of tying up the Court’s with frivolous challenges. The SCOTUS ruling are the law of the land and any legislators who break their oath to protect and defend the Constitution should be removed from office..

  13. Sooooo, that means people can sue car manufacturers for the brand of car they are in when they get in a wreck….

  14. I clicked on a link that was SUPPOSED to be a video of an anti-gunner being taken apart – and I ended up here. Bad job webmeister.

  15. I used to reside in CT and now reside in the sister state of CA. What I find most ludricus is the 2 states with the most restrictive gun regulations, make their money off weapons of ( To quote the politicans) mass destruction. Three of the major gun manufacturers are in CT. Both CT and CA make military weapons of war, submarines, ships, aircraft. While some may think this is Apples and Oranges that is the analogy the anti anything people use to violate our rights.

    So if you believe I should not have a gun in your state than, no one in your state should be able to manufacture any kind of weapon, sub assembly, bullet, primer, propellant for any weapon defined as a gun, firearm or other destination. Nor can anyone in your state including politicans, law enforcement, members of the judicial departments, body guards have any firearm. Only select branches of the Federal government.

  16. If guns are the cause of shootings are cars the cause of traffic deaths? Yes. Stop selling cars also?

  17. Keep America Free!!! We are turning into the USSA. United Socialist States of America. NOT THE WAY TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. They dont really care if they win or lose right now, it’s about setting a precedent and in court many times a “precedent” set by some interpretation or even allowing something to go forward sets the table for the rest of the game. They win, woohoo great but if they lose its “well we’re getting people to talk about it because it’s for the children..”. The projected higher price of firearms is just a bonus to them because it makes it harder for every day people to purchase one. Because if there are two things they have proven to be able to do is control what the media does and does not share with people as the narrative is twisted into whichever play-dough form they please through emotion and brow beat almost any company that doesn’t follow the hashtag script. They know that unless a full-scale conflict happens no one will come to arms, it’s just not financially viable for those of us who pretty much support all of the other sides “activists” because we work and pay for the “social programs” out of our taxes. Right now the media is trying to use New Zealand as its next precedent to be set…

  19. Very soon they will ban also ropes, knifes, matches, bats, pressure cookers, golf clubs, pipes, rocks, the list goes on. The only thing needed to kill a person is another person.

  20. Well Bushmaster needs to get ahold of the Sandy Hook News reports tapes especially the one that shows Law Enforcement Officers REMOVING THE RIFLE IN QUESTION IN THE LAW SUIT FROM THE TRUNK OF THE VEHICLE DRIVEN TO THE SCHOOL BY THE SHOOTER ! AFTER THE INCIDENT WAS OVER AND THE SHOOTER WAS DECEASED. This brings up the QUESTION of How did the shooter use the RIFLE IN QUESTION IF SAID RIFLE WAS LOCKED IN THE TRUNK OF THE VEHICLE DRIVEN BY THE SHOOTER ?. This also brings to question why was there never any photographs of victims being removed from building, why was there no photographs of blood on floors, walls and no bullet holes in walls ? Also why was the building immediately demolished destroying any evidence that could be used to PROVE or DISPROVE that this incident ACTUALLY HAPPENED ? THIS NEVER OCCURED.!!

    • There are certainly a lot if unanswered questions like WHY does the school look unused in aerial photos before the shooting and then torn down almost immediately …

  21. What part of one of the biggest hoaxes in AMERICAN HISTORY did you folks miss. The portapotties showed up in advance. Crisis actors played multiple roles, there are pictures of this operation being staged in advance. Obama on National TV admitting this was a drill. No coroners reports have ever been located, and no reports from the morgue, The national mass shooting investigator being run out of toqn by the state police. Not to mention all the people that got new housing!

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