PLCAA Stop Lawsuit in Illinois

Dave Hardy has the case.  Kid gets a hold of dad’s gun, which is safely stored, removes the magazine, and shoots a friend by accident believing he unloaded the gun.  The victim’s family sues the gun manufacturer, Beretta, claiming a product liability tort, which is dismissed because it was associated with a criminal act, namely negligence.

Traditionally under product liability law, the manufacturer of a product can be held negligent for defects in design, that are likely to cause injury, in particular, manufacturers are usually required to make their products as safe as possible.  But guns are kind of a special instance, in that everyone can be expected to understand that they are dangerous by design.

I don’t think that manufacturers should be required to install magazine disconnects or risk being held negligent.  I often call the magazine disconnect the safety feature that isn’t.  It might prevent someone who believes a gun is unloaded from discharging it, but it also forces knowledgeable users to do unwise things in order to clean, de-cock, or do various other functions.  I don’t consider them a safety enhancement.

3 thoughts on “PLCAA Stop Lawsuit in Illinois”

  1. I have two pistols which have a magazine disconnect mechanism – a S&W 659 and a S&W 645. I think these pistols might have been among the first ones made to have such a feature, and both of them came out about 25 years ago.

    I also have a much newer model pistol than these two S&W’s – a Beretta 9000 in 9mm Luger. It’s a much more modern design than my S&W’s, being that it is polymer framed, but it has no magazine disconnect mechanism at all, just like the Beretta in this sad story about an accidental shooting death that seems to me like it was completely preventable.

    Anyway, magazine disconnect mechanism or not, I always observe the same gun safety procedures with any firearm that I am handling, namely, by first checking to see if the chamber is clear by pulling back the slide, or whatever the case may be.

    That’s one of the first things about guns I was ever taught in life by my dad and other family members of mine, and I wish that every kid was taught the same, just like I was all those years ago.

  2. The other problem with magazine disconnects is that they tend to turn a pistol into a paperweight at the worst possible time, like what happened in this event (summary – A school cop is hit in the head from behind with a baseball bat by a student. The cop, now on the floor and dazed, draws his pistol – and the magazine falls out). The cop was lucky he was able to get to his back-up gun in time.

    My own gun (a Taurus PT-145) has a slight design issue with the magazine release. It’s prominent enough that, using the grip I learned in a lifetime of shooting only revolvers, the recoil would cause me to frob the mag release. This displaced the magazine enough, in the right part of the cycle, that the next round wouldn’t feed. It took that happening a few times before I figured it out and changed my grip (and it was about the same time people started posting about the “Todd Jarrett Kung Fu Grip”, so the timing was actually pretty good). It’s a problem I’m always conscious of, though.

    Fortunately, the PT-145 doesn’t have a magazine disconnect, so even if I accidentally hit that button (say, in a high stress situation) I’ll have at least one shot.

  3. I’ve carries both a Smith and a Sig with the magazine disconnect. The Smith would still fire if the trigger was partially depressed before the magazine was removed. The Sig’s had/has a tenancy to fail if the weapon is not properly maintained. Myself I never had a problem because I maintained both weapons like they were my own and always made sure the magazine was properly seated. sometimes several times a day. In any event, magazine disconnect or not you follow the four rules…always.

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