Limitations on Gun Industry Lawsuits Attracting Criticism

An American law passed in 2005 that blocks lawsuits against gun companies is under increased scrutiny this week as Newtown parents and the families of the Aurora theatre shooting victims begin to talk publicly about their attempts to legally pursue the manufacturers of guns.  The law, passed after intense lobbying by the National Rifle Association, grants liability protection to gun companies.  The law was originally aimed at preventing municipal governments from bringing public nuisance suits against the gun industry – suits gun makers claimed would bring ruination on their industry and threaten Americans’ constitutional right to bear arms.

However, critics say that the law has instead been used to block individuals from bringing suits alleging inadequate safety measures or improper sales of firearms.  The families of victims of recent mass shootings in the United States have been surprised by the protections afforded to the gun industry by the government.  Veronique Pozner, the mother of one of the children killed in the Sandy Hook shooting, says that “it make no logical sense… if their wallets were threatened, they would have a greater interest in making firearms safer.”

Marc Bern, a lawyer representing the families of some of the Aurora theatre shooting victims, says that “it is absolutely outrageous that the gun industry is not accountable when virtually every other industry in this country is accountable.”

The gun industry and the NRA argue that the law is necessary to prevent individuals from vilifying the gun industry in court for crimes they did not commit.  The effect of the law, however, is just to push inevitable lawsuits elsewhere – Bern is currently pursuing a case against the movie theatre company in attempt to recover some damages for the tragedy that occurred in Colorado.

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