Families of Sandy Hook Victims Win Lawsuit Against Remington Arms

Second amendment sanctuaries gaining popularity across the U.S.

TOP STORY

Sandy Hook Suit Ruling Could Pose Liability 'Nightmare' For Gunmakers

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled on March 14 that Remington Arms, maker of the Bushmaster XM15-E2S Adam Lanza used to kill 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, can be sued because of the way the gun was marketed.

The 4-3 decision challenges federal liability protections Congress granted firearms manufacturers when it adopted the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) in 2005. The law shields gunmakers from liability when their guns are used in the commission of crimes and prohibits “qualified civil liability actions,” which are defined as civil or administrative proceedings which “result from the criminal or lawful misuse” of firearms or ammunition.

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruling overturned a lower-court decision that stated the PLCAA precluded Remington from sharing some responsibility for Lanza’s acts. The wrongful-death lawsuit was brought by a survivor and nine families of those killed in the attack.

Adam Lanza was 20 when he shot and killed his mother at home, then went to the Newtown school, where he gunned down first-graders and educators with a Bushmaster XM15-E2S. Lanza then killed himself.

The lawsuit contends that Remington, based in Madison, North Carolina, advertised the gun model, which is based on the AR-15, in ways that glorified it to young people and that the weapon is inherently dangerous.

“The families’ goal has always been to shed light on Remington’s calculated and profit-driven strategy to expand the AR-15 market and court high-risk users, all at the expense of Americans’ safety,” attorney Joshua Koskoff, who represented the plaintiffs, told Chris Woodyard of USA Today. “Today’s decision is a critical step toward achieving that goal.”

“The regulation of advertising that threatens the public’s health, safety, and morals has long been considered a core exercise of the states’ police powers,” Justice Richard Palmer wrote for the majority, adding he didn’t believe Congress envisioned complete immunity for gun-makers.

The decision is "a victory for the principle that no industry is above the law or above accountability," said Adam Skaggs, chief counsel for the San Francisco-based Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, in a statement. The court rejected the notion "that any industry, no matter how powerful, can slam the courthouse doors to the victims of illegal marketing practice."

As a result of the ruling, "Remington's nightmare will come true as plaintiffs' lawyers can now closely examine the gun-maker's marketing practices," said Jon Lowy, vice president for legal affairs for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington, D.C., in an interview.

It's the kind of ruling, he told Chris Woodyard of USA Today, that is sure to send shock waves through the gun industry.

"Executives are going to have to answer some questions. What were they thinking and why were they marketing these weapons of war to the general public," Lowy said.

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OPERATION CHOKE POINT

Maloney Turns Congressional Hearing Into An Extravaganza Of Dancing Baloney

The House Financial Services Committee held a March 12 hearing called “Holding Megabanks Accountable: An Examination of Wells Fargo’s Pattern of Consumer Abuses” that Ammoland and other gun rights advocacy groups are pointing to as an example of anti-gun hysteria and hyperbole gone amok.

The hearing “provided one of the clearest and most shocking examples to date of how anti-gun Democrats are now willing to embrace as official policy what was still treated as scandal under the Obama administration,” writes Ammoland in a March 15 editorial, referring to Operation Choke Point (OCP).

As part of OCP, Department of Justice and Federal Deposit Insurance Company officials allegedly pressured banks and payment processors to sever ties with businesses regulators found objectionable, including the firearms industry.

Wells Fargo, not coincidentally as Ammoland notes, provides banking services for the, NRA.

During the hearing, federal officials denied regulators were pressuring banks to drop business regulators found morally objectionable. They said banks misunderstood the “risk management” guidance they were offering.

The star of the hearing was anti-gun zealot U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) who, according to Ammoland, “unabashedly embraced the tactics behind one of the most shameful policies of the Obama era, openly using the guise of her federal authority to berate and not so subtly threaten a bank for lawfully serving businesses that don’t reflect her political views.”

In grilling Wells Fargo President and Chief Executive Officer Timothy J. Sloan, Maloney, “excoriated Mr. Sloan and Wells Fargo for refusing to follow the lead of other national banks that had refused or severed business with members of the gun industry that did not ‘voluntarily’ adopt certain gun control ‘best practices’ that exceed the requirements of federal law,” Ammoland writes,

Sloan was a “punching bag during an extended production of Political Outrage Theatre. The entire premise of the hearing was that Wells Fargo might very well have to endure yet more regulation and oversight—or, perhaps, be broken up altogether—unless Mr. Sloan provided satisfactory answers to committee members’ questions about the bank and its business practices,” Ammoland claims.

These practices include banning long-gun purchases by young adults eligible for military service and refusing to recognize the 3-day default transfer option that gun dealers may exercise if the FBI does not complete a background check, Ammoland recounts.

“They also just happened to mirror policy goals that anti-gun Democrats—a category that includes Maloney herself—have been pursuing through legislation they have not to date been successful in enacting,” Ammoland writes. “Maloney, in other words, was not accusing Wells Fargo of having done anything illegal by transacting with members of the firearm industry. Rather, she was criticizing the bank for not imposing anti-gun rules that Congress itself has failed to adopt.”

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STATE ROUNDUP

Growing 'Second Amendment Sanctuary' Movement Spans Two Dozen Local Governments Across Six States

The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 on March 6 to declare the small North Carolina mountain county a “gun sanctuary” in a symbolic resolution. It says, in part, that the county will defy efforts by state or federal government to enforce strict gun-control laws.

More than two dozen counties and even a few cities in at least six states—New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Illinois and now North Carolina—have adopted similar “Second Amendment Sanctuary” resolutions.

Sheriff Tony Mace, whose Cibola County is among 14 New Mexico counties that have adopted Second Amendment Sanctuary resolution, told the Pacific Standard newspaper that the movement was inspired by those governments that have chosen to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation.

“They’re picking and choosing which laws they want to follow,” Mace said, according to the Pacific Standard, therefore, so can governments if reference to gun laws they believe unconstitutional.

Whether gun sanctuary resolutions are constitutional has yet to be decided by the Supreme Court. In Madison County, Illinois, voters decided last fall to become a gun sanctuary, despite warnings from some county board members that the measure “violates the principles of what...our country is founded on.” The case is expected to eventually end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cherokee County’s “Second Amendment Sanctuary” resolution was written by County Commissioner Dan Eichenbaum. It cites the Second Amendment and the right to “keep and bear arms” for protection, The Cherokee Scout reported.

Commissioner C.B. McKinnon posted the three-page measure on Facebook, which states local government won’t fund or implement federal or state laws that inhibit residents gun rights.

“Therefore, the Cherokee County Government will not authorize or appropriate government funds, resources, employees, agencies, contractors, buildings, detention centers or offices for the purpose of enforcing or assisting in the enforcement of any element of such acts, laws, orders, mandates, rules or regulations, that infringe on the right by the people to keep and bear arms as described and defined in detail above.”

Eichenbaum cites similar ordinances in Oregon as a reference.

The Cherokee Scout reported the county’s refusal to implement federal laws that do not comport with its own policies is similar “to the concept of sanctuary cities refusing to enforce federal immigration policies.”

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IN THE COURTS

Portland Suit: 'Compulsory' Participation In 'March For Our Lives' Unconstitutional

School officials made participation in March For Our Lives protests advocating gun control after last year’s Valentine’s Day Parkland, Florida, compulsory, violating children’s civil rights, a lawsuit filed in federal court against the Portland, Oregon, public school district.

According to the The Oregonian/OregonLive, the suit was filed March 13 by lawyer and Multnomah County Republican Party Chairman James Buchal, representing two Portland couples on behalf of their three children.

The parents are suing to recoup attorney fees and $8,552 one says he paid Portland schools for records related to a student walkout and last year’s March For Our Lives. They want a judge to declare the district’s alleged support for those events as a violation of the First Amendment.

District spokesman Harry Esteve said in a statement that the district believes the claims made in the lawsuit are baseless.

In addition, the suit seeks to block Portland schools from “taking steps, including using public resources, to advocate for gun control, allowing students to protest during school hours without being marked absent and letting students post signs at school that advocate a position on a controversial topic unless signs presenting the opposite point of view are posted, too.”

The suit claims pro-gun parents are a “political minority” in the Portland district and that their views were ignored as mass demonstrations swept across Portland and the rest of the country. The parents say they were forced to pay for political activity they disagree with since their tax dollars fund district operations.

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