Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP
CARSON CITY, Nevada – The Nevada Supreme Court has ruled that gun manufacturers cannot be held responsible for deaths in the 2017 mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip because state law makes them protects against liability unless the weapon malfunctions.
The parents of a woman who was among 60 people killed in the crowded music festival shooting filed a wrongful death complaint against Colt Manufacturing Co. and several other gunmakers in July 2019.
The lawsuit said gun manufacturers “knowingly make and sell guns designed to fire automatically because they know their AR-15s can be easily modified with stockpiles of bumps to do so, violating federal prohibitions. and state machine guns “.
Stephen Paddock used an AR-15 with a stock of bumps when he fired 1,049 bullets in just 10 minutes at the crowd of 22,000 people in his suite in a casino tower before killing himself. Fifty-eight people were killed at the site or died in hospitals and hundreds more were injured, including two people who died in the years following complications from their injuries.
The Nevada Supreme Court largely sided with the manufacturers’ argument on Thursday that Nevada law immunizes them from civil actions, with the only “exception for product liability claims involving design flaws or production that causes the firearm to malfunction “.
“We believe that (state law) grants the firearms companies immunity from claims of wrongful death and negligence per se made against them under Nevada law in this case,” he said. writes Judge Kristina Pickering in the unanimous decision.
The lawsuit brought by Carrie Parsons’ parents, James and Ann Marie Parsons of Seattle, alleged that the manufacturers had shown a “reckless disrespect for public safety” by advertising firearms “as as military weapons and signaling the weapon’s ability to be simply modified “. He said there were dozens of videos online showing people how to set up dent stock.
“It was only a question of when – not if – a shooter would take advantage of the AR-15’s ease of modification to fire automatically to dramatically increase the death toll,” the lawsuit said.
Pickering said the lawsuit was based on an allegation of misconduct “beyond a gun’s inherent ability to cause harm, i.e. the manufacture and distribution of illegal machine guns by the companies. firearms “.
But she said in the 20-page decision that state law does not limit manufacturer’s immunity specifically to “legal” firearms. She said he states that no civil action is permitted in such cases against the maker of “any” firearm or ammunition.
“We in no way underestimate the serious public policy issues presented or the horrific tragedy inflicted by the mass shooting of the Route 91 Harvest Festival,” she wrote, while noting that the law as ‘it was written that did not authorize the Parsons to sue the manufacturers.
“If civil liability is to be imposed on gun manufacturers and distributors in the position of gun manufacturers in this case, that decision rests with the legislature, not this tribunal,” she wrote. . “We urge the legislature to act if that does not mean granting immunity in situations like this.”