There has been a lot of discussion on gun laws especially with the recent spate of killings all over the US. Gun laws are also coming under fire with elections around the corner.
It is easy to hold perpetrators of gun violence responsible for their crimes. After all, the man behind the gun is responsible for pulling the trigger and causing the death of those he aimed the gun at. However, should the responsibility be extended to those who make and distribute these weapons?
This is the question that was raised in the lawsuit against Remington Arms. The Carolina based manufacturer of ammunition and firearms was slapped with a lawsuit for selling and distributing a semi-automatic rifle that is considered too dangerous for use by the public. It is claimed that the rifle was designed for military use as a killing machine.
The lawsuit was filed by the parents of children who were killed by a gunman on December 14th 2012. The gunman who killed 6 teachers and 20 children in first grade used a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle that was manufactured by Remington.
Protected by the law
While Remington is responsible for manufacturing the killing machine that was used to massacre the children, the company is protected by federal law from liability for any crimes committed using the firearms or ammunition it manufacturers. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, 2005 protects the firearm manufacturers from being held responsible for the crimes committed by people using their products.
As a result of this law, the federal judge hearing the lawsuit had no choice but to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the parents. This was much to the dismay of the parents as well as advocates for gun control.
Was it lawful?
While many would like to get justice done for the deceased and the families affected, the law in this case is clear. Remington manufactures and sells products that ought to be used in self-defense and in accordance with the law. Arguably, the manufacturer is not responsible for those who purchase their products and use them for criminal purposes. Based on the liability protection afforded by federal law, Remington cannot be held responsible for how its products are used.
This case was used by gun control advocates to politicize their agenda. They argue that there should be limits on the types of guns available as well as the types of ammunition. The argument is that consumers do not need armor piercing bullets or rapid fire semi-automatic weapons for any purpose other than to kill other humans. They also argue that stronger background check laws are appropriate and seek to close loopholes that allow people to purchase guns without background checks. Given the results of the elections on November 8, 2016, it seems unlikely that stronger gun control laws will be enacted in the near future.