Defying predictions (and federal law), Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis ruled Thursday that the Sandy Hook families may proceed with their lawsuit against Remington Arms. Bellis rejected a motion to dismiss, even though the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act gives Remington Arms immunity from just this type of litigation. Bellis did not address that law, instead telling lawyers for the gun manufacturer to raise the issue in a separate motion at a later time.
Hillary Clinton, who has made gun control a central component of her campaign, released a statement supporting the decision.
“Today’s ruling in Connecticut is an important step forward for these families, who are bravely fighting to hold irresponsible gunmakers accountable for their actions.” Clinton said. “They deserve their day in court. Period. Unfortunately, PLCAA – the sweeping immunity law that protects gun manufacturers and dealers – still remains a major obstacle for these families and others seeking to hold these gun companies accountable. That is why, as president, I would lead the charge to repeal this law.”
It would be futile to figure out what Judge Bellis was actually thinking, but her stated reasoning is that the victims still have a case based on their unique argument. The plaintiffs claim that Remington Arms – the parent company of Bushmaster, which made the rifle used by killer Adam Lanza in the 2012 massacre – should have known better than to sell a “military weapon” to civilians.
Clinton is out there making it sound like the PLCAA is this absurd law that grants special legal protections to gun manufacturers. The worst example of a special interest – in this case, the NRA – getting one over on the American people. But you don’t have to be a lawyer – or even a gun-rights supporter – to see how ridiculous this is. The rifle purchased by Lanza’s mother was perfectly legal. The sale was perfectly legal. Lanza’s mother had no criminal record and the seller was in no way negligent.
This lawsuit has no legal standing. Politically, Clinton is preying on the sympathies of the American public, hoping that emotion will trump logic. No one wants to look at the Sandy Hook families and say, “You don’t deserve a dime.” We all remember that day – that sick feeling we all got when the news reports told us that 20 first-graders had been murdered by a lunatic. Perhaps it’s compounded by the fact that Lanza killed himself, thus depriving society of legal justice.
Be that as it may, we don’t just make up the law based on how horrible we feel about a particular tragedy. If we did, we would have given Jack Ruby the key to Dallas instead of sentencing him to death. Our society’s foundation rests not upon which way the political winds are blowing – it rests on the rule of law. Clinton is free to try and repeal the PLCAA, but she would have to go a lot further than that to give a lawsuit like this one any reasonable justification.