Judge: Smith and Wesson Can Be Sued for Synagogue Shooting

A man wearing a kippah Jewish skullcap arrives at the synagogue in Halle, eastern Germany, on October 10, 2019, one day after the attack where two people were shot dead. - German leaders visited the scene of the deadly anti-Semitic gun attack carried out on the holy day of Yom …
RONNY HARTMANN/AFP via Getty Images

San Diego Superior Court Judge Kenneth Medel ruled last week that Smith & Wesson can be sued for the April 27, 2019, Powoy Synagogue shooting.

The gunman used an AR-style rifle in the attack and Smith & Wesson had argued such suits concerning the rifle were not allowed under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). But Judge Medel ruled the suit can proceed, the Hill reported.

The lawsuit against Smith & Wesson was filed in 2020, Reuters noted. The suit claimed Smith & Wesson “attracted impulsive young men with military complexes who were particularly likely to be attracted to the unique ability of AR-15 style weapons.”

San Diego Guns, the store that sold the gun, is also a defendant in the suit, the Times of San Diego pointed out.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence cheered Judge Medel’s ruling, saying, “Today’s judgment is a victory, and an important step on the road to justice for the victims of the shooting at Chabad of Poway Synagogue, and all Americans who believe that the gun industry is not above the law.”
On April 9, 2021, Breitbart News noted, “The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act [PLCAA] is very narrow in scope. It shields gun makers from lawsuits in situations where a gun, criminally used, was legally made and legally sold.

In other words, Glock cannot be sued over a handgun used in crime if that handgun was legally made then distributed from the factory to a Federal Firearms License holder (FFL), then sold via a National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS) check to an individual at retail.

The text of PLCAA states:

Businesses in the United States that are engaged in interstate and foreign commerce through the lawful design, manufacture, marketing, distribution, importation, or sale to the public of firearms or ammunition products that have been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce are not, and should not, be liable for the harm caused by those who criminally or unlawfully misuse firearm products or ammunition products that function as designed and intended.

The PLCAA was passed because municipalities were filing suit after suit against gun makers in the 1990s and early 2000s, NPR noted:

Those lawsuits often claimed gun-makers or sellers were engaging in “negligent marketing” or creating a “public nuisance.”

In 2000, for example, New York City joined 30 counties and cities in suing gun manufacturers, saying manufacturers should have been making their products safer and also better tracking where their products were sold. Manufacturers, one argument at the time went, should stop supplying stores that sell a lot of guns that end up being used in crimes.

“In response to these lawsuits, the NRA pushed for the law, which passed in 2005 with support from both Republicans and Democrats,” NPR said.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkinsa weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him at awrhawkins@breitbart.com. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.

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