A legal shield enacted by Congress to benefit the firearms industry is posing hurdles for parents in Newtown, Ct., and victims of other mass shootings, who want to use the courts to hold gun makers accountable and push them to adopt stricter safety standards, the Washington Post reports. The 2005 law, approved after intense lobbying by the National Rifle Association, grants gun companies rare protection from the kind of liability suits that have targeted many other consumer product manufacturers. It was introduced amid a wave of lawsuits by city governments arguing that gun companies had created a “public nuisance” by encouraging the proliferation of weapons. Advocates for gun makers said such suits threatened to destroy the industry and imperil the constitutional right to bear arms.
Over the past eight years, the law has increasingly been used to block suits brought by victims and their families alleging that gun makers had failed to equip their firearms with proper safeguards or that gun dealers sold weapons improperly. “It makes no logical sense. [ ] If their wallets were threatened, they would have a greater interest in making firearms safer,” said Veronique Pozner, whose son, Noah, 6, was one of the 20 children killed at Sandy Hook. Lawrence Keane, general counsel of the Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation, noted that Congress adopted the law with “overwhelming” majorities and predicted that any repeal effort would fizzle. “It's not going to happen,” said Keane. “Suing law-abiding firearms manufacturers for the criminal misuse by third parties of firearms that were lawfully sold amounts to suing Ford for drunk-driving accidents.”