Gun Control

The Newtown Families' Lawsuit Ignores Fact That Vast Majority of AR-15s Are Used Responsibly

Gun control advocates fighting "assault weapons" have two formidable enemies: the law and experience.

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Adam Lanza
Wikimedia

The 1994 federal law banning "assault weapons" was a high point of the gun control movement and Bill Clinton's presidency. Signing the bill, he said it was the beginning of "our effort to restore safety and security to the people of this country." But something happened that he and his allies had not predicted: nothing.

Duke University scholars Philip Cook and Kristin Goss, who are sympathetic to gun control efforts, assessed the ban in a book published this year and concluded, "There is no compelling evidence that it saved lives." A 2004 study led by Christopher Koper of the University of Pennsylvania agreed: "We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation's recent drop in gun violence."

Homicides did decline after it became law—but they fell as well in the years after its 2004 expiration. From the standpoint of the safety and security of the American people, the prohibition was a non-event.

But gun control advocates, with a heroic disregard for real-world evidence, have never given up trying to get rid of these arms. The latest effort is a lawsuit filed by families of students and employees killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., two years ago.

The complaint says the maker and sellers of the AR-15 used by Adam Lanza should have to pay damages because in putting it on the market, they "chose to disregard the unreasonable risks the rifle posed." If they were held liable, the companies might also be ordered to stop selling it.

The AR-15 is too dangerous to tolerate, the lawsuit argues, because it is a military weapon whose "overwhelming firepower" and "extreme efficiency" serve to produce "maximum carnage." But the argument proves too much and too little.

If this gun has no place in civilian hands because of its destructive power, the same holds for plenty of other rifles that fire larger bullets than the .223 caliber rounds used by Lanza. If the problem is that it can fire rapidly, the charge applies to other semiautomatic firearms—which are the majority of guns sold in America. (This and other "assault weapons" are not machine guns.)

It can use a high-capacity magazine? So can millions of firearms omitted from the lawsuit. AR-15s are sometimes used to kill people, true, but it's handguns that account for most gun murders. By the logic of the lawsuit, any and all guns could be forced off the market—which, come to think of it, could be the point.

The implication is that if Lanza's mother had not been able to buy an AR-15, he would not have been able to wreak so much havoc. But Nancy Lanza could have bought other weapons that would have fully served his grotesque purposes.

What the lawsuit overlooks is that the vast majority of AR-15s have not been misused. They were sold to law-abiding citizens for perfectly legitimate purposes like hunting and target shooting. Banning them because a few lunatics may get hold of them is like banning Corvettes because some irresponsible buyers will drive 100 mph and end up in fatal crashes.

Central to the case is an old legal doctrine called "negligent entrustment." If I lend my car to someone who is visibly drunk, I can be held liable if he runs someone over. The plaintiffs want to use a novel version of that policy to punish gun companies.

The lawsuit doesn't say gun companies should be blocked from selling AR-15s to anyone known to be dangerous—which Nancy Lanza was not. It says gun companies should be blocked from selling to anyone, simply because some microscopic percentage of buyers will turn out to be mass murderers.

Some years ago, anti-gun organizations filed lawsuits trying to bankrupt firearm companies by holding them financially responsible for crimes committed with guns. It was the equivalent of suing Budweiser for alcohol-fueled violence or General Motors for traffic fatalities. Congress headed them off by passing a law prohibiting this type of liability.

Its judgment reflected the prevailing sentiment that the benefits of legal firearms outweigh the harms. The public and its elected representatives don't believe "assault weapons" are excessively hazardous or that eliminating them would appreciably hinder those bent on killing.

The courts are not likely to overrule those choices. In this battle, the gun control advocates have two formidable enemies: the law and experience.

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116 responses to “The Newtown Families' Lawsuit Ignores Fact That Vast Majority of AR-15s Are Used Responsibly

  1. Those families are being used.

    1. They are not being used. They are willing participants in this monstrosity.

      Gabby giffords is an example of someone being used. A child trotted out to give a speech his parents wrote is someone being used.

      These assholes are choosing to not restrain their anger. Saying they are being used is like saying that the Klansman who kills a black man to avenge the rape of a white girl because he was told that the black man had raped that white girl was being used.

      It’s time we stopped treating those parents like children and held them to the standard expected of adults.

      1. But that’s the problem, t, those people are victims. And the norms of our society hold that victims are immune from criticism, and that the act which makes them victims also bestows policy expertise upon them.

        It’s very hard to get people to move beyond emotionalism, which is one of the fundamental ongoing challenges of libertarianism.

        1. The problem extends beyond actual victims. Anytime anyone rational opposes any type of policy that is based on some emotional situation, they are automatically seen as hurting those who have an emotional tie to the issue.

          Oppose Obamacare = Hate poor sick people
          Support Charter Schools = Hate poor black children from the inner city.
          Oppose universal free birth control = hate at least 50% of the population

          On and on and on…

          No matter what you oppose, you are automatically a bad person for opposing it regardless of whether or not your opposition is based on sound reason and reality.

          And if you attempt to explain your sound reasons, they will be dismissed away with “facts” that will likely go unchallenged because the people we all expect to challenge them are too fucking lazy to do so, and everyone else hasn’t the time or resources to do so.

          1. and…

            Oppose gun control = support mass murders…

            Yes, everyone can now become sympathetic to the most vile people on the planet just by applying reason and maintaining a clear perspective on reality.

            1. The upside is that the political segment insisting on creating, and using victims for their own aspirations, are seriously overstepping in their efforts.

              Combined with the fact that information is readily available and persistent (courtesy of the Internet) is creating a new class of people who can, and do see through this tactic.

              People on the other end of things have started using the same tactics as a result. For instance, gun-control is being posed as anti-women, because more and more women choose to become armed.

              Hopefully this will all escalate to a perfect point where everyone will be so fatigued by this kind of emotional pandering, that they will just stop paying attention to it.

              1. I’m pretty much already at that point. I cut my cable and make every effort to not read any article that even smells like emotional pandering. The problem I run into is that sometimes, I get halfway through an article (on other websites) and find the following:

                “But opponents say that. . .” Fill in your grievance group du jour here… then fill in your “facts” not supported by reality here… followed by your byzantine, unworkable political solution here…

                This is where I end my reading, because frankly, I just don’t give a shit any more.

                The only political change I can make happen is to get others to take a more rationale view of reality and explain how to approach issues from a perspective that the use of force should be avoided and if needed should only be used to defend basic natural rights… So watching or reading the aggrieved members of society sob away as they spout ridiculous policy prescriptions they believe will assuage future grievances becomes an unnecessary act for me because I cannot really interact with their lunacy in any meaningful way so as to communicate the above political perspective and if I do, they are too fucking angry to absorb it anyway.

            2. EIDuderino,

              You wrote, “Oppose gun control = support mass murders…

              You got that one EXACTLY RIGHT.

              1. Troll.

          2. EIDucerino.

            You are a very miss informed person.
            Oppose the ACA, you are just plain stupid.
            It is the best legislation out of congress in 50 years.

            Support Charter schools, you hate all students in those criminal operations. They are short changing the students, and pilfering the public finances.

            Oppose universal free birth control you hate the entire world, because 1)the world is massively over populated, and 2)most of the women in the world do not want to be a walking, talking, baby factory. In the past (as little as 75 years ago) over half of the pregnancies did not make it to their third birthday. Farther back it was as low as 30% made it to that age. Today, in almost all of he world, less than 5% do not make it to their third birth day.

            We are facing total extension if we do not fix the climate change problem NOW. Over population is the biggest driver of Climate Change. The best way to start is make birth universally available FREE.

            1. The stupid is strong with you.

        2. the act which makes them victims also bestows policy expertise upon them.

          I don’t really mind the rest (well, immune from criticism is a bit much). But this is the big problem. Exactly the opposite is what should be assumed. I pity the victims, but I sure as fuck don’t think that emotionally traumatized and angry people are who you should turn to when developing policy. They really should probably be specifically ignored. For similar reasons, I don’t really like having victim impact testimony having anything to do with criminal sentencing.

      2. The gun control advocates are not being used, they have been abused by the pro gun loonies.

        We MUST put in place laws to regulate, register and control ALL guns.

        1. Troll.

    2. No, I don’t think they are. It’s the families of 9 of the victims. In a state as left leaning as CT is, having less than half of them involves makes me think these people really believe the manufacturer is at fault.

      1. Makes me happy that the rest steered clear of this shit.

        1. And a few, to their great credit, actually stood up and defended gun rights after the shootings.

    3. Actually they’re allowing their dead children to be used.

      This is no better than allowing a necrophiliac to have their way with their kid’s corpses.

      1. loki,
        You are one warped bastard.

  2. Anything based solely on weapon appearance is explicitly, completely animist. You literally can’t get more animist than that. The inanimate object looks scary! It’s evil! It has agency!

    Fuck these people are stupid.

    1. How can anyone possibly tolerate the existence of guns that have a shoulder thing that goes up?

      1. What about black guns! I mean, that’s like racist and stuff!

      2. Guns don’t kill. Shoulder things kill.

        1. Shoulder things that GO UP.

          Get it straight man, knowing the difference could save your life.

    2. One just needs to point out the difference between correlation and causation.

      1. “Huh? Yeah, whatever! Guns kill!”

      2. In this case, I don’t think there is either correlation or causation. Most murders with guns involve handguns. And very few involve so called “assault weapons”.

  3. In which state was the lawsuit filed? CT? If it makes it to jury, Bushmaster and any others named in the suit are fucked.

    1. My concern exactly. ‘Negligent Entrustment’ is an incredibly weak hook to hang this case on, so they’re probably going for an emotional victory. Find a compliant judge, seat a jury full of reliable New England progressive soccer mommies, and boom. Punitive damages galore.

      I wonder if MAIG is bankrolling this suit? It certainly aligns nicely with their strategy…

    2. Unless the judge is utterly incompetent or is willing to blatantly grind a political ax, this won’t survive a summary judgment motion.

      1. And now I realize what I just said before the comma.

        You may be on to something KK…

        1. Bushmaster may lose the first round, but they ought to try to have it removed to Federal District Court on diversity jurisdiction grounds … and plan to fight it up to the 2nd Circuit, and beyond. With any luck, the plaintiffs will bankrupt themselves in the process.

  4. Maybe they just want a big pile of money? That doesn’t make them any better, but maybe it is as simple as wanting a large paycheck.

    I can not help but think of people who I have to interact with in meatspace who state repeatedly that they are ‘owed’. They ‘deserve’ money, for whatever slight, real or imagined.

    1. Time will tell. If it’s filthy lucre they want, this case will never get anywhere near a jury.

  5. Frankly, I welcome these cases now. Cause they get their asses handed to them every, single time.

    And if/when they don’t? Then the revolution will be on, it will be televised, and it will all end badly.

    Fuck all of these fuckers with the business end of an AR with a four-sided picatinny forestock..

    1. Here is where a “Loser Pays” policy would really help. Stick the shithead lawyers and / or their clients with Bushmaster’s legal bills.

      The way it works in sane judicial systems.

    2. And a bayonet lug…because that’s what makes these guns “assault” people.

  6. Funny also there are 100s of other AR pattern rifles that are not mentioned and could have just as easily been used. The premise that that particular gun store and manufacturer are responsible in anyway for selling a legal product to a legal buyer is outrageous. If any other reasonable entity would have done the same thing (LaRue and my LGS for instance) how is it that this LGS and Bushmaster get singled out.

    1. Er.. ?

    2. Because if Bushmaster is driven into bankruptcy for selling anyone an AR-15, every other gun manufacturer has to stop selling anything with the same characteristics*.

      * Characteristics like “it goes bang and a bullet comes out.”

  7. Chapman on guns.

    Like I’m going to read this.

  8. Kinda like how Reason.com ignores the fact that the vast majority of cops aren’t lunatics who murder people willy-nilly? Kinda like that?

    1. No, they just stand by and do nothing while their “brothers” get away with murder. Kinda like that.

      1. Any cop who attempts to stop or report one of his “brothers” for committing crimes in uniform will get nothing but crickets the next time they need backup.

        1. Pretty sure they call that “the Serpico treatment.”

    2. Way to stay on topic, genius. Oh and suck some more cop dick while you’re at it.

    3. The issue isn’t that the vast majority of cops murder people, it’s that a large percentage of cops a) ignore the law, including those regarding search and seizure, b) use unnecessary force, c) cover up for other police officers who behave irresponsibly or criminally, d) threaten people with punishments for things that aren’t even illegal (such as taking pictures of an arrest) and e) are never punished when they do any of the above.

      1. ^This.

        But you’re still wasting your time arguing with a dishonest troll.

    4. I’ll believe that the majority of cops are good when the next time a video comes out of cops beating the shit out of a prone suspect, other cops step in and arrest them for battery.

    5. People die because of the actions of people (such as the police) not by the action of objects (such as the AR-15.) Seems reasonable to me.

    6. The vast majority of cops cover up and make excuses for cops that murder, beat, and torture. Why do you think only pariahs and losers get assigned to internal affairs?

    7. And since you seem to be completely ignorant about cops, here’s an illustrative example. Choice quote:

      The most interesting detail of the case is the testimony of one Officer Jermaine Hopkins, who was fired (indefinitely suspended) on October 30th for testifying on Buehler’s behalf. Liberty Viral spoke to the Austin Police Department and confirmed that Officer Hopkins, a 6 year veteran, is now off the force for good. An official disciplinary memo for him is being filed with the state.

      This was a “good cop”. But he got fired for it, so he’s no longer a cop, good or not. If only he had been a bad cop, he could have kept his job!

      1. To be fair, he was likely fired for his own safety.

    8. Kinda like how Reason.com ignores the fact that the vast majority of cops aren’t lunatics who murder people willy-nilly? Kinda like that?

      Does the liberal solution to that problem involve banning cops?

      1. Burn

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  10. Why aren’t they suing the manufacturer of “Gun Free Zone” signs? Clearly the sign malfunctioned, otherwise he couldn’t have brought any guns there in the first place.

    1. You made my morning with that one!

  11. Meanwhile, in Missoula, a guy who openly expressed his intent to bait the people who previously burgled his garage and blast them has been convicted of murder. The verdict is being touted in some corners as a “defeat” for the Castle Doctrine.

    The victim was a German exchange student, and the German government was apparently conducting their own, parallel, investigation. If they were planning to send a Spetznatz team to snatch the killer, they were at least smart enough not to blab it around.

    *the link is out there.

    1. Getting the Russians to help with a snatch operation would be a neat trick.

    2. So the common law is totally gone because of one case? Or the people touting that are total morons?

      Ockham’s Razor suggests the latter.

    3. Without knowing the details, I bet he booby trapped the house. That’s always been a no-no under the Castle doctrine. Anything that looks close to booby trapping or premeditated killing is not castle doctrine.

      It’s similar to the difference between buying a pistol “in case I get mugged again” and buying a pistol “to set those theiving bitches up and pop a cap in their ass”

      1. Based on my reading of the case, the guy had been burgled a couple of times. He decided to bait the next one by cracking open his garage door and leaving a purse out in the open. When the student went into the garage (and no tears for the Kraut, because he should have fucking known better than to go onto someone else’s property uninvited), the defendant grabbed his shotgun and went to work.

        From what I read, the defendant tried to get off under “Stand Your Ground,” not the Castle Doctrine, but regardless, I have trouble seeing how stand your ground would apply when you went out of your way to bait someone into your home.

        1. It certainly doesn’t under Texas law, as you can’t provoke the attack.

        2. Red rock,
          You got that one right. from what I saw in a quick read, the victim was unarmed. Either way, it was murder.

      2. Eh, it’s his fucking house. Interlopers not welcome. If you go on someone else’s property without permission — and especially with the intent to do something illegal — you run the risk of setting off the security system, be it a simple alarm or a booby trap.

        1. Not in the U.S.. Lethal force to defend property has always been a no-no. Your own life or someone else’s, fine. Not stuff.

          Sounds like his first mistake was to shoot his mouth off before hand.

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  13. the vast majority of cops aren’t lunatics who murder people willy-nilly

    They just circle the wagons and cover up for the ones who do,
    meaning THERE ARE NO GOOD COPS.

    1. I will believe in good cops when I see a police department publicly criticize one of their own when they kill or batter an unarmed innocent.

      1. The trouble is that so often they aren’t innocent. Unarmed, maybe, though that hardly matters. But rarely innocent.

        I’ll always condemn out of control cops, and I’m sure there are too many, but by and large, it’s our fellow civilians fault for what happens to them when they encounter cops.

        The real trouble is that cops have a hard time identifying friend from foe, and generally no good way to judge on the spur of the moment. We train and pay police to be aggressive, and they usually are. Treat them as you would a undetonated explosive … very carefully.

  14. Everytime the gun control advocates spout off in CT, the gun shops do triple the business they normally do. I passed one the other day that was so crowded cars were lined up in the street waiting to pull into the parking lot! Way to go douchbag libs — you’ve accomplished exactly the opposite of what you intended, as usual.

    1. Excellent news!

  15. Getting the Russians to help with a snatch operation would be a neat trick.

    Oops. What the hell was I thinking of?

  16. I guess I was thinking Stasi.

    (also not actually applicable)

    1. That Stasi just knew what the verdict would be before it was announced.

  17. Why not sue Eugene Stoner’s estate for inventing such an evil weapon and caliber? (which isn’t powerful enough to legally hunt deer)

    1. which isn’t powerful enough to legally hunt deer
      But which is excellent for coyotes, feral hogs, and such.

  18. The vast majority of nukes are handled responsibly as well.

    1. ‘Tony’ isn’t really retarded, he just acts that way.

      1. We’ll have to agree to disagree on that point.

    2. Right on! Legalize civilian ownership of nuclear bombs!

      1. Hey, if you can figure out how to build one…

    3. “Tony|12.18.14 @ 1:22PM|#

      The vast majority of nukes are handled responsibly as well.”

      Actually, they’re not – which is why the US finances Russia’s nuclear material security and has done for decades.

      but why would i expect you to actually have any facts behind the dipshit claims that fall out of your piehole? My bad.

      Besides, if the issue were ‘destructive power’, then no one should be allowed to buy more than a gallon of gas or a bag of fertilizer at a time.

      The point is that the AR15 is – despite its ‘power’ – hardly ever used in crimes. it is no more inherently a danger than the gas you fill your car up with.

      1. it is no more inherently a danger than the gas you fill your car up with.

        IMHO the rifle is less dangerous. It and its ammo just sit there unless someone picks them up. Gasoline vapor will go looking for a spark.

  19. “Banning them because a few lunatics may get hold of them is like banning Corvettes because some irresponsible buyers will drive 100 mph and end up in fatal crashes.”

    Don’t give them any more ideas.

    1. Gilbert, you are stretching it just a bit with the BS about banning Vets because they can go 100. Virtually every car on the road can make it 100.

      And besides, vets are not designed as a weapon. The AR15 was designed as a military weapon with the sole purpose of killing people.

      There is no responsible sane use for a weapon such as the AR15.

      1. No. It is not a military weapon and would never be accepted as a military weapon. It is completely a civilian weapon designed to *look* *like* a military weapon. It is commonly chambered in a caliber that is not even usually considered lethal enough to kill deer. They are very suitable for varmint control.

        And literally millions of rounds are fired from AR-15’s every year by responsible, sane(*) people who don’t harm anything more than a paper target.

        No firearm is made with the purpose of killing anyone. The *purpose* of a firearm is to fire bullets or shells in the direction which the operator is aiming the firearm. Period. Full stop. The operator is solely responsible for what the bullets hit.

        (*)Many gun-banners assume that wanting to own or discharge a firearm is prima facie evidence of insanity.

      2. Virtually every car on the road can make it 100.

        And virtually any semi-automatic weapon can be fed from 25-round or even 100-round magazine. A magazine is nothing more than a metal box and a spring.

        So if you want to ban AR-15, you’ll have to ban all semi-autos–they can all rain death in seconds because they all fire a bullet each time you pull the trigger. Of course, so do revolvers, so you’ll need to ban them too. And even pump-action shotguns can carry 3-6 shells (sometimes many more). And even most bolt-action rifles for hunting have a small magazine (my Tika deer rifle has a 3-round magazine). So ban those too.

        Of course, that’s *exactly* what you want. So stop pretending it’s about AR-15s.

      3. “There is no responsible sane use for a weapon such as the AR15.”

        That’s just idiotic. But it says a lot about your utopian frame of mind.

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  22. A major point in the gun-banner’s complaint is that state legislatures have failed to pass laws they want:

    133. In the overwhelming majority of states, young people can legally purchase…
    134. In at least a dozen states, the minimum age for possession of an AR-15…
    135. In the overwhelming majority of states, a license or permit is not required…
    136. In the overwhelming majority of states, no safety training is required…
    137. There is not a single state that requires a mental health examination…
    138. There is not a single state that requires a potential purchaser of an AR-15 to answer questions…

    So their argument is, “The elected representatives of the voters in every state in the union disagree with us, but this court should rewrite the law our way anyhow.”
    https://www.documentcloud.org/ documents/1380622-sandy-hook.html
    (Sorry, apparently the link is too long for the squirrels.)

  23. “gun control advocates have two formidable enemies: the law and experience”

    They also have two powerful tools: fear and ignorance.

    1. No, they only have one enemies, the insane supreme court. If the supreme court was sane, the second would be read as written. “To ensure a well regulated militia……….”

      Beyond the well regulated militia, which is the National Guard and the Reserves, all guns of any type should be regulated by any and all governmental entities, as they see fit.

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  25. The definition of responsibility may vary from person to person. I personally only know of two instances where an AR-15 was used. One was where a colleague got drunk and started threatening people. The cops came and he killed one of them. They executed my colleague in the electric chair. Another was two cops (brothers) and an attorney came to the front door of a house to arrest a man on drug and weapons charges. The man opened his door with an AR-15 and killed one of the cops and the attorney. The surviving cop was badly wounded and when he got out of the hospital, he quit, saying he couldn’t take it anymore. Incidents like these are why cops have been happy to acquire military gear.

    1. Exactly. No civilian should be able to own any weapon with any magazine. Every cartridge should have to be chambered manually, one at a time.

      1. So, a revolver is out?

      2. I’m so glad that you trust cops, assuming that’s what you mean by civilians…not cops, to have firearms that can shoot more than one bullet.

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  27. Hey Steve, the majority of people who drive after drinking too much alcohol don’t get into accidents either.

  28. “Some years ago, anti-gun organizations filed lawsuits trying to bankrupt firearm companies by holding them financially responsible for crimes committed with guns. It was the equivalent of suing Budweiser for alcohol-fueled violence or General Motors for traffic fatalities. Congress headed them off by passing a law prohibiting this type of liability.”

    This must have happened *after* the record-billions of the tobacco lawsuit. . .

  29. This suit is so frivolous that I hope the attorneys who filed get sanctioned.

  30. Case Closed: Sandy Hook scam.
    http://ppsimmons.blogspot.ca/2…..se-on.html

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