Newtown Parents File Suit Against Manufacturer, Distributor, Retailer

In 2005, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act was passed to protect gun companies from being sued for crimes committed with their firearms. It's intent was to protect the companies from liability because their products performed as they were designed.

Yesterday, ten of the families from the Newtown, Connecticut massacre suit against Bushmaster firearms, firearms distributor Camfour and Riverview Gun Sales, the companies that manufactured, distributed and sold -legally- the gun Adam Lanza used to butcher those twenty six people at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, respectively.

They've filed suit asking an exception to the Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act under the theory of negligent entrustment. Their attorneys will argue that the companies are liable for the deaths at Sandy Hook because they knowingly sold civilians weapons only meant for combat.

They're seeking unspecified damages, but insist the money isn't the object. They say their purpose is to stop the "funneling of military weapons to civilians."

By now, many of you are likely using deletable expletives at that suggestion.

The idea of suing companies for the lawful manufacturing, distribution and sale of the nation's most popular rifle for everything from hunting to competition shooting is laughable, right?

Sure, if you look at facts. But this case is not based on any facts. In fact, an examination of their lawsuit's introduction makes it apparent this case isn't about facts, it's about emotions.

The "Introduction" reads more like the voice-over script that opens a tragic movie than a lawsuit based on facts:

1. This is a civil action for damages and injunctive relief stemming from the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.
2. In less than five minutes, 20 first-grade children and 6 adults were killed. Two others were wounded.
3. The number of lives lost in those 264 seconds was made possible by the shooter's weapon of choice: a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, model XM15-E2s.
4. The AR-15 was designed as a military weapon, and it has always excelled on the battlefield. Born of the exigencies of modern combat, the AR-15 was engineered to deliver maximum carnage with extreme efficiency.
5. The AR-15 proved to be very good at its job. It has endured.....

And it continues on, hammering home the flood of emotions we all feel at the thoughts of innocent children being systematically murdered with no one there to defend them.

If your adult life has been spent producing video, you know you're only missing the cues for music ("music swells and fills as the camera pans the crime scene") to have a compelling bit of video production.

And the suit continues, making several of the blanket assertions that are purely emotional and regularly employed by anti-gun proponents: the AR-15 actually has little utility for "legitimate civilian purposes" "it's size and overwhelming firepower, so well adapted for the battlefield, are in fact liabilities in home defense".

This isn't a hint of dancing in the blood of those 26 victims, it's a carefully choreographed ballet, designed to employ a flood of emotion in hopes of overcoming the simple fact that the inanimate object wasn't to blame, a crazy boy named Lanza was.

For all its "overwhelming firepower" any rifle will never more effective than when it's employed by an evil person who's willing to die after slaughtering his carefully chosen victims - the most defenseless form of humanity: children.

As a parent, I grieve with those families, misguided as this lawsuit appears to me.

But understanding their grief doesn't excuse their participation in what is nothing more than a shakedown lawsuit. They lack a compelling fact to back a claim of negligent entrustment. But no one who has watched an emotional jury trial can be one-hundred percent confident the jury won't find in their favor.

Juries are people -and when faced with horrific crimes, they want to blame someone the same way people wanted to "do something" after the murders were committed.

If that were to happen, the defendants would be forced to appeal rather than face a staggering liability judgement. And their legal meter would keep running.

But would a guilty verdict -even one without facts- have a higher chance of being overturned after review by a supposedly neutral judicial panel? Normally, but this isn't a normal case. It will be characterized by anti-gun groups as the ultimate battle of good against evil.

Can anyone be neutral if they're faced with Ferguson, Missouri levels of emotional protesters?

In cases like this, the defendant with the lightest hip pocket is generally the first to offer settlement rather than risk financial ruin. In many instances their insurance carrier approves the offer to limit their potential losses.

That's why I characterize suits such as this shakedowns. In many instances, the settlement is the reason behind the suit. And I'm not accusing these parents of that- but I have no problem believing anti-gun zealots would willingly use them to advance their agenda.

And they're being exploited. Their grief is real, and the contemplation of their sense of loss is unimaginable. But they're also dealing with an equally crippling emotion- guilt. No one who's come through this sort of trauma could escape it. And that guilt is enough to drive them to almost any length to blame someone rather than consider the possibility that they really did nothing to protect their children.

It's the same guilt faced by parents as they work hard to better the lives of their families, knowing they're simultaneously missing out on the their family's life. These parents are facing the fact that they missed what mattered most -and now change isn't an option. That's a hurt too-large to contemplate.

And I can't forgive those who take advantage of that hurt- and disguise their manipulation as caring.

Arguing the facts means you'll be labeled uncaring, but exploiting the hurt and using emotion to advance an agenda that ultimately wants all of us to be as defenseless as those twenty children at Sandy Hook is characterized as "caring".

In times like these, the National Shooting Sports Foundation's response is probably the best response: "The U.S. Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act in 2005 in order to prevent lawsuits that seek to blame manufacturers for the criminal misuse of products that were lawfully sold. Like all Americans, we have great sympathy for the families represented in this suit. This tragedy was caused by the criminal actions of a mentally unstable individual. The suit lacks factual and legal merit."

Yes, their suit lacks merit, but sympathetic feelings toward the families - even while we fight their lawsuit -doesn't make us hypocrites, it only confirms our humanity.

They're wrong, but we still hurt for their loss. That is not a contradiction.

Republished from The Outdoor Wire.

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