The question about whether firearm companies should be held liable for the marketing of their products was answered by the U.S. Supreme Court last week. After the court decided not to take up an appeal by Remington Arms Company, the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting will be allowed to sue them.
The victims aren’t suing because of the direct involvement of Remington’s product in the shooting. Instead they are targeting the marketing of the firearm, claiming that the company promoted the militaristic properties of the assault rifle used in the tragedy, according to the Washington Post.
While I believe in gun rights for those who will use them safely and have followed the correct legal processes to purchase them, I strongly think that assault rifles should be banned for civilian use. While many people like having them for sport or recreational purposes, assault rifles pose a clearer danger to the public due to the high rate of fire and large ammo capacity, as compared to a weapon like a handgun.
With that being said, I’m not sure that being able to sue a firearms company over usage of their product in a mass shooting is a precedent that the courts should set.
I’m not taking the gun company’s side in this argument, as I feel that more people should be held accountable for the unfortunate epidemic of mass shootings in America. However, there are many factors that go into a mass shooting, including background information, the mentality of the shooter and how the firearm was acquired.
It could easily be argued that even if a firearm isn’t being explicitly marketed towards its “militaristic” properties, firearm manufacturers will be using marketing tactics that lean toward violence, whether that be home defense or sport shooting.
If firearm companies aren’t allowed to market their product towards their intended uses, then it’s unfair to the company. They do have a right to try and make a profit.
Historically, firearms manufacturers have not been held accountable for the crimes their products may play a role in. The 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act seeks to give protection for firearm companies from lawsuits like this one, and the courts have generally ruled in favor of the gun companies.
Even if it could be proven that the advertising campaign for the gun used in the Sandy Hook shooting helped play a role in the tragedy, the issue is much more complex than just simple marketing tactics.