U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- The Nevada Supreme Court recently issued a ruling upholding the immunity of firearm and ammunition makers from civil lawsuits, when their products are used criminally, under Nevada law.
The lawsuit stems from the criminal mass murder perpetrated in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017. Many people are desperate to blame the instruments of crime for the crime. There are deep pockets to consider. Gun manufacturers have significant assets. Dead criminals do not.
Gun Makers Don’t Pull Triggers
A Federal statute The Protection of Legal Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), protects manufacturers, distributors, and retailers on the federal side.
Nevada has a separate state statute to protect firearms manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits designed to destroy innocent manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.
If manufacturers, distributors, and retailers can be held responsible for the acts of criminals, no manufacturer, distributor or retailer will be safe from lawsuits designed to destroy them. The Federal lawsuit was sent to the state court to see if it was valid in Nevada.
The Nevada statute is NRS 41.131. From state.nv.us:
NRS 41.131 Limitation on basis of liability of manufacturers and distributors of firearms and ammunition.
1. No person has a cause of action against the manufacturer or distributor of any firearm or ammunition merely because the firearm or ammunition was capable of causing serious injury, damage or death, was discharged and proximately caused serious injury, damage or death. This subsection is declaratory and not in derogation of the common law.
2. This section does not affect a cause of action based upon a defect in design or production. The capability of a firearm or ammunition to cause serious injury, damage or death when discharged does not make the product defective in design.
The Law is Clear
The Nevada Supreme Court found the lawsuit was not allowed under Nevada law. From the nvsupremecourt.us, case number 81034:
In response to the questions certified to us by the federal district court, we hold that NRS 41.131 provides the gun companies immunity from the wrongful death and negligence per se claims asserted against them under Nevada law in this case. We in no way underestimate the profound public policy issues presented or the horrific tragedy the Route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting inflicted. But this is an area the Legislature has occupied extensively. If civil liability is to be imposed against firearm manufacturers and distributors in the position of the gun companies in this case, that decision is for the Legislature, not this court. We urge the Legislature to act if it did not mean to provide immunity in situations like this one. But as written, NRS 41.131 declares a legislative policy that the Parsonses cannot proceed with these claims under Nevada law.
The convoluted reasoning in the lawsuit, that firearms manufacturers should cease to make and sell firearms because they could foresee firearms might be used in mass murder, is a terrible, civilization-killing concept. Trucks and cars have been used in mass murder, at least one with more victims than the mass murder in Las Vegas. Gasoline has been used effectively in mass murder. Matches have been used effectively in mass murder. Knives have been used effectively in mass murder.
Nearly everything has a potential for serious crime. Presumably, the idea is to only allow the government to produce and distribute things. Private individuals would be taking an extreme risk to make anything, given that liability for the manufacture of products could be attached to criminal acts.
Our society has had horrible effects, from the expansion of tort law since the 1970s, all denied by the tort liability bar, which profits enormously from these lawsuits.
The United States is not alone in mass murder. Guns alone are not the only instruments of mass murder.
More states should emulate Nevada to protect innocent manufacturers, stockholders, distributors, and retailers from frivolous lawsuits designed for political purposes.
There is no such thing as a risk-free society. Risk is inherent in life. No one gets out of this life without dying.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.