The Indiana Supreme Court on April 24 issued a 3-2 decision that ruled Indiana gun dealers are immune from being sued for damages if a gun they sold is used to injure someone, even if sold illegally. Before the ruling, Indiana law said a person couldn't sue a firearm dealer for damages resulting from the criminal use of a firearm by a third party, but the April ruling in KS&E Sports and Edward J. Ellis v. Dwayne H. Runnels extends and clarifies those protections. The ruling also applied to firearms sold unlawfully, although firearms retailers and employees could still face criminal charges for knowing about an illegal gun sale.
A Missouri gun dealer's decision to pay $2.2 million to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit could set a precedent to challenging PLCAA protections for retailers. Odessa Gun & Pawn, in Odessa, Mo., agreed to settle rather than sustain its two-year battle in Delana v. Odessa Gun & Pawn. According to the Brady Center To Prevent Gun Violence, there are at least 10 other civil cases pending, including in Florida, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Texas, in which gun retailers are being sued for wrongful death.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence on Oct. 13 filed a lawsuit on behalf of victims of the Oct. 1 Las Vegas massacre against Slide Fire Solutions, the Texas-based manufacturer of "bump stocks." The lawsuit filed in Clark County District Court in Nevada has three named plaintiffs — all victims of the shooting — and seeks class-action status. The lawsuit claims Slide Fire Solutions "misled federal authorities about their intended purpose and marketed them to thrill-seeking gun enthusiasts who wanted the experience of firing a fully automatic weapon that is otherwise greatly restricted under federal law."
Las Vegas-based Titolo Law Office, along with the Chicago-based firm Romanucci & Blandin, on Nov. 16 and Nov. 17 filed 14 lawsuits in Clark County District Court on behalf of victims of the Las Vegas massacre, which left almost 60 dead and more than 500 wounded. The defendants include MGM Resorts International Inc., Mandalay Corp., Live Nation Entertainment Inc., Live Nation Group, gunman Stephen Paddock's estate, bump stock maker Slide Fire Solutions LP and several unidentified manufacturers and retailers. Live Nation Entertainment Inc. and Live Nation Group are the entertainment companies that staged the Route 91 Harvest country music festival that Paddock targeted from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort. According to the suits, they acted negligently in before the mass shooting. The first complaints were filed against Slide Fire Solutions LP within days of the attack.
- On May 5, Marion County Common Pleas Judge Jim Slagle ruled that a lawsuit demanding Ohio state universities and colleges restore student's Constitutional right to carry concealed weapons on their campuses could proceed. Ohio State University and other state colleges had requested it be dismissed.
- On June 21, The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled the University of Michigan can keep its ban on guns on campus, in a 2-1 dismissal of a complaint against a 2001 University of Michigan ordinance prohibiting firearms on university property for students, staff and the general public.
- On July 7, District Court Judge Lee Yeakel dismissed a challenge to the 2016 Texas Campus Carry Law by three University of Texas at Austin professors who claimed allowing the Second Amendment to exist in their classrooms violated their First Amendment rights.
PREEMPTION: Montana AG Upholds State Preemption In Nixing Missoula Gun Ordinance: Montana Attorney General Tim Fox on Jan. 27 ruled that a city of Missoula's ordinance requiring background checks for private gun sales violates the state's preemption law and, therefore, is unconstitutional. According to Fox's determination, local governments in Montana are limited to regulating where gun owners can conceal carry, not how they can purchase firearms. The Missoula City Council adopted the ordinance in September after Missoula's City Attorney Jim Nugent assured them that such regulation was within the city's jurisdiction.
GUN RANGES: Circuit Court Strikes Down Chicago Gun Range Restrictions: A 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge on Jan. 18 ruled a Chicago law banning individuals under 18 from commercial shooting ranges, and zoning regulations restricting their operation to manufacturing districts, to be unconstitutional. The ruling was issued by Judge Diane Sykes, who was frequently cited as being on the short-list for President Donald Trump's first appointment to the Supreme Court, which went to 10th Circuit Court Justice Neil Gorsuch in April.
JUSTICE DEFERRED: 'May Issue' Shall Continue in Hawaii: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals remanded Baker v. Kealoha back to the district court where it all began in 2013 in an unpublished ruling issued on March 9. Christopher Baker appealed the denial of his request for a preliminary injunction against Hawaii's "may issue" requirement that concealed applicants show an "exceptional" reason to justify carrying a firearm. The same 9th Circuit Court upheld 'may issue' in Peruta v. San Diego County in a determination that, "There is no Second Amendment right for members of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public."
BACKGROUND CHECKS: It's Not A Crime To Lie If The Question Shouldn't Be Asked: The Iowa Supreme Court on April 14 threw out a man's conviction for lying about his criminal past on a handgun permit application, ruling the questions asked by the state should not have been asked on background check in the first place. Iowa legislators, in passing in 2010 a law on gun permits, prohibited the Iowa Department of Public Safety to ask questions beyond those that verify the applicants' identity. Justices agreed, ruling the state can "only" ask the basics.
PRODUCT SUIT: Motions Filed To Block Remington's Court-Ordered Fix For 7.5 Million Rifles: A Louisiana deputy sheriff and Oklahoma attorney filed motions on April 20 in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seeking to block implementation of a March settlement in a class action suit against Remington for allegedly covering up a design defect that allowed up to 7.5 million firearms — including Remington's Model 700 rifles — to fire without the trigger being pulled. They say the settlement's mechanism for notifying the public "deliberately downplays" the alleged risks the guns pose, and doesn't do enough to get word out about the replacement offer. Attorneys general in nine states and the District of Columbia made similar arguments.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Court Rules City Conviction Does Not Automatically Invoke Federal Law: The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on May 23 that a Kansas man convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery can legally carry a gun because a federal law that prohibits someone from owning a gun if they've been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence "under federal, state or tribal law" doesn't apply if the conviction is under a municipal ordinance. The ruling determined that the man, convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence under a Wichita ordinance, may have violated state and local law by carrying a firearm, but did not violate federal law.
ASSAULT WEAPON BAN: Chicago's Lethal 'Assault Weapons' Ban Challenged in Refiled Suit: Illinois residents Matthew D. Wilson and Troy Edhlund on July 28 refiled their 2007 lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction against Cook County's "assault weapons" ban. Wilson and Edhlund, joined in the suit by the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and Illinois State Rifle Association, filed their original suit after the adoption of the Cook County Assault Weapons Ordinance in November 2006. They claim the law violates the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution, as applied to the states by the 14th Amendment, because of vagueness in its definition of "assault weapons" which Second Amendment advocates and legal scholars have long claimed to be a politically contrived term that doesn't mean anything.
FELONS FIREARMS: Lawsuit Challenges Ban On Non-Violent Felons' Right To Own A Firearm: A Montana man on August 14 filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court challenging the federal prohibition against non-violent felons legally owning a firearm. Gregory L. Reyes, who was convicted of securities fraud in 2010, argues in Reyes v. Sessions that the crimes for which he was convicted do not qualify under federal law as offenses to which a firearms restriction should apply. Under Montana law, he maintains in the suit, he could legally own a firearm.
NO RIGHT TO SELL GUNS: Ninth Circuit Rules Second Amendment Doesn't Include Right to Sell Guns: The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Oct. 10 that Alameda County did not violate the Second Amendment by prohibiting three businessmen from opening a gun store near a residential area because, it determined, there is no protected right to sell guns. In 2010, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors revoked a permit for a proposed gun shop because it would violate a county ordinance prohibiting gun stores within 500 feet of a residential area.
FEDS WON'T ENFORCE STATE LAW: Nevada's Failure To Enforce Background Check Law Draws Lawsuit: In November 2016, Nevada voters approved Question 1 by less than 10,000 votes, endorsing a 'universal' background check measure that requires a background check for all firearm sales, including private transactions. The FBI, however, has determined since the requirement is not federal law, it is not obligated to enforce it on behalf of the state. The agency essentially said it would require additional staffing and resources to handle Nevada's expansion of background checks, meaning it wants the state to finance the additional assets necessary to implement its law. The law was supposed to go into effect on Jan. 1, but remains in legal limbo because Nevada has not responded. In late October, three Nevada residents filed a lawsuit against the state in Clark County District Court over what they allege is its failure to take the measures necessary for the FBI to implement the new law.
GUN ACCESS: Delaware Ruling Restores Second Amendment In First State Parks, Forests: The Delaware Supreme Court in a 3-2 Dec. 7 ruling declared a half-century non-hunting weapons ban in Delaware's state parks and forests is unconstitutional. The suit, filed by the Bridgeville Rifle & Pistol Club (BRPC) and the Delaware State Sportsmen's Association (DSSA), maintained the prohibition on guns violates their rights under Delaware's constitution, which was amended in 1987 to state that individual citizens have the right to carry guns for self-defense.