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Don't Be In The Dark About Our Legal System

Hello, I'm Karla Mitchell. Going through a legal case can be very expensive and challenging. I won't go into details, but I recently underwent my own legal battle that lasted several years. It is finally over and I successfully received a settlement, but I had to spend so much time studying law in order to play my role in my own court case. While I found a great attorney at one point, I felt completely lost initially and I don't want anyone else to experience the same thing. So I decided to create this blog for those who would like to know more about law.


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Don't Be In The Dark About Our Legal System

Is It Possible To Win A Lawsuit Against Gun Manufacturers?

by Andrew Martin

The spate of mass shootings conducted by private individuals and high-profile cases involving lethal force used by law enforcement officers has, among other things, brought the issue of gun violence to the forefront. While legislators and lobbyists battle over whether or not to change gun laws, those affected by gun violence are wondering if they can hold manufacturers responsible for producing the dangerous products used in these incidents. Here's what you need to know about suing gun manufacturers for damages related to injury or death caused by the use of guns.

The First Roadblock

When you file a lawsuit against a gun manufacturer, you will immediately run into a legal brick wall. Specifically, gun manufacturers are protected by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which essentially eliminates their liability for crimes committed using their products. If someone shoots you during a mugging, for instance, the law prohibits you from suing the manufacturer simply because it made the product used to injure you.

The law, however, does not protect the manufacturer from lawsuits stemming from product defects, criminal conduct by the company, breaches of contracts or similar issues related to doing business. One way to get around the legal restriction put in place by the PLCAA is to file a lawsuit based on unrestricted claims. For instance, if the mugger didn't intend to shoot you but the gun accidentally went off because the safety latch failed, you could go after the manufacturer for damages based on a defective product liability claim.

Proving Your Case

Despite the immunity provided to gun companies by the PLCAA, it may still be possible to sue them for damages sustained from crimes committed by people using their products. Be aware, though, that you will be facing an uphill battle. You will have to prove the company acted with some degree of negligence or purposeful intent, and that the manufacturer's business practices or actions contributed in some way to the undesirable outcome.

For instance, Andy Cohen points out in an article he wrote for Time Magazine that the PLCAA took away any incentive gun manufacturers had to make their products safer to use or to be responsible when selling them to the general public. One possible consequence of this is that powerful weapons such as the AR-15 have found their way into the hands of civilians who do not have the maturity, training or mental stability needed to handle them.

However, to prove your case you'll have to provide evidence that links the actions (or inaction) of gun manufacturer to the outcome, which can be challenging to do when there are other variables to account for. Selling guns indiscriminately to dealers may be a contributing factor, for instance, but the dealers themselves also bear some responsibility for actually selling the weapons to consumers.

In cases where you're claiming the manufacturer acted negligently, you'll have to prove the company had a duty of care to you and that its actions breached that duty. For instance, certain guns are restricted from being sold to civilians, and manufacturers have a duty to make sure they only sell those guns to properly licensed companies and individuals. If they fail in this duty and sell restricted guns to people who aren't supposed to have them, then you may have a case for damages if you are injured by someone using the weapon.

Bringing a case against the gun manufacturers is often a complex task. It's best to work with a personal injury lawyer versed in these types of cases if you want to give yourself the best chance of winning in court.