Connecticut Judge: Yes You Can (Break Federal Law if it’s to Sue Lawful Arms Manufacturer)
Tonight, the anti-gunners are gonna party like it’s 2004.
If you just got a flashback to the presidency of George W. Bush, don’t worry: It’s not your music-festival days come back to haunt you, it’s still 2019, and the anti-gunners just decided to try to use the courts to bankrupt gun manufacturers again. The Connecticut Supreme Court has just ruled that a group of families who lost loved ones at Sandy Hook are entitled to sue Bushmaster because of the actions of one depraved man. In what may well be the dumbest #ThrowbackThursday since the days before hashtags, the anti-gunners have decided to revisit a strategy that they last tried in 2004–nuisance lawsuits based on trying to hold gun manufacturers responsible for the criminal behavior of an individual.
The whole thing is like a sundae made of pure, 99/44 100% Stupid. Let’s get our spoons out and dig in, shall we?
1. The Scoops of Ice-Cold French Vanilla Duhhh
This one’s easy. Lawsuits against a company for manufacturing a non-defective product that was used illegally by a criminal aren’t just logically barren; they’re dangerous. If it’s ok to sue Bushmaster (or, more precisely, The Freedom Group–which is a consortium that owns Marlin, Remington, and Bushmaster among others) for manufacturing a gun that was used in a crime, then where does it stop? I was behind an old lady in a Prius who mowed down a gate a couple of weeks ago; does the homeowner have a lawsuit against Toyota?
2. The Fluffy Piles of Whipped Derrrrp
The thing is, this has been tried before: From the late 1990s through 2005, anti-gunners filed dozens of lawsuits against every gun manufacturer they could serve papers to. It was a prime strategy in the Brady Campaign’s playbook, in fact. There was only one problem: Each and every suit, no matter what court heard them, failed. That’s right: Despite having financial backing that would make the NRA weep with envy, the best lawyers that money could buy, and willing accomplices in the mainstream media who described this strategy as “innovative” and “ingenious,” they lost every. single. suit. That’s actually kind of remarkable; usually one can count on at least a couple of activist judges to try legislating from the bench, but no.
Thing is, winning wasn’t the point. The lawsuits were levied in order to bankrupt the manufacturers with legal fees. Essentially, they were using the U.S.’ broad and permissive tort laws to try to harass these lawful businesses into shuttering. Why didn’t it work? Well…
3. Multicolored Jimmies of Fail
It’s called the Protection of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act (PLCAA), and it was passed in 2005 and signed into law by then-President Bush. Here’s the original NYT article detailing the passage of PLCAA. (Do note the wailing and gnashing of teeth.) The PLCAA essentially forbids these nuisance suits, while at the same time allowing for suits based on defective merchandise or actual illegal activity by the manufacturer. That’s why when it came out that certain Remington firearms were capable of firing without a trigger press by the user, a class-action lawsuit was allowed to go forth. So why does the Connecticut Supreme Court think that PLCAA, a federal law, somehow doesn’t protect Freedom Group from this particular suit?
4. The Spoon That Makes Everyone Fat
Well, that’s because, according to the court, “the lawsuit could proceed based on a state law protecting consumers against fraudulent marketing.” Furthermore, that Bushmaster/Freedom Group’s marketing was based on the military appeal of the Bushmaster AR-15. Are you scratching your head, wondering how marketing a gun that looks militaristic as…being a cool thing to own because it looks kinda militaristic…is fraudulent? Or if they think Bushmaster’s advertising contained a super secret code message that enjoined a waste of carbon like the Newtown shooter to kill innocent people? Of course you are, because it makes no sense.
There’s a saying among lawyers: “If the law’s on your side, pound on the law. If the facts are on your side, pound on the facts. If neither are on your side, pound on the table.” In this case, the law’s not on their side, the facts aren’t on their side, and the Connecticut state supreme court is probably going to be told to go pound sand by the Supreme Court when this case gets to them.
And if not? That would be a blow to gun rights in America, but on the upside I’d be clear to get one hell of a payday from Baskin-Robbins for making delicious ice cream, and Carhartt for not making XXXXXXXL pants.
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