Responsibility for Criminal Firearms Violence

The second panel is by James B. Vogts. He is the attorney defending Remington in the case in Connecticut where the plaintiffs argued that selling AR-15s to civilians amounted to negligent entrustment. His talk is almost exclusively on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).

I was not aware that PLCAA history goes back to Kelly v. R.G Industries, Inc. in Maryland in 1985. In this case R.G. industries made a cheap revolver, a so-called “Saturday Night Special.” R.G. industries was found strictly liable for a criminal’s use of the firearm. I didn’t become aware of this issue until cases in the 1990s, when Hamilton v. Beretta USA Corp before Judge Weinstein. Weinstein was the one federal judge willing to assign liability to manufacturers for criminal misuse of their product.

There’s some background on Soto v. Bushmaster, which was the beginning of the case after Sandy Hook arguing several things under the PLCAA exceptions, including that selling AR-15s to civilians is negligent entrustment, which is excepted from PLCAA. So far PLCAA has held, but the plaintiffs are appealing their loss to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Overall, PLCAA has generally worked effectively. There have been some disagreement between courts about whether PLCAA preempts ordinary negligence claims. These problematic courts have allowed all claims against a manufacturer to proceed if only one of the claims was not a “qualified civil liability action” that is preempted.

One thought on “Responsibility for Criminal Firearms Violence”

  1. My father always pointed out the racial/ist origin of the term “saturday night special”. I would also add the pistol permitting system we have here in NC.

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