Just as automakers aren’t held liable for criminals driving cars while on a crime spree, the 2005 Protections of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act protects firearms manufacturers like Smith & Wesson Brands ( NASDAQ:SWBI ) and Sturm, Ruger ( NYSE:RGR ) from being held responsible for crimes committed with their products. Gun control advocates, though, are exploring ways to do an end run around the law by using consumer protection laws to go after gunmakers, and the pursuit of Smith & Wesson in New Jersey may become the test case indicating whether the effort will be replicated across the country against all firearms companies. Image source: Getty Images. A roundabout means of attaching liability Last October, Smith & Wesson was ordered by New Jersey’s then-attorney general to turn over internal documents regarding its advertising that promoted personal safety through gun ownership. He alleged that by not offering up any proofs to back up its declarations or saying the state limits the ability of its citizens to carry a gun, the gunmaker was engaging in false advertising. While that may seem like grasping at straws, it’s the same legal strategy being pursued against the remnants of Remington Outdoor by the families of the Sandy Hook school shooting victims. They’re alleging the gunmaker violated Connecticut’s consumer protection laws because it advertised its Bushmaster XM15 rifle, the gun used by Adam Lanza to shoot 20 children and six adults, as a “military-style” weapon. They contend the description and other marketing materials would […]
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