A federal law passed in 2005 largely limits liability for gun manufacturers whose weapons are used in a crime such as Wednesday’s slaying of 17 people at a Florida high school.
Police said Nikolas Cruz, an expelled student, used a version of the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and multiple magazines when he killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Fla.
Under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, manufacturers, dealers and sellers of firearms and ammunition are generally protected from civil lawsuits related to criminal use of their products. The rule does include six exceptions under which civil suits may go forward.
President George W. Bush signed the legislation into law in 2005, with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and then-Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., voting in favor and then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., voting against the shield for gun makers. Wayne LaPierre, now CEO of the National Rifle Association, called it “the most significant piece of pro-gun legislation” in 20 years.
A Connecticut judge dismissed a 2016 lawsuit filed against Remington Outdoor by the families of victims in the shooting that left 27 people dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The company manufactured the AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon that Adam Lanza used in the 2012 massacre. In November 2017, the Connecticut Supreme Court heard arguments from the victims’ families.
Remington, operated by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, said this week it planned to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection amid declining sales. Stephen Feinberg, the CEO of Cerberus, supported Donald Trump in his successful 2016 presidential campaign.
Gun companies, including Sturm Ruger (NYSE:RGR) and American Outdoor Brands (NASDAQ:AOBC), briefly rallied a day after the Florida shooting on speculation that short-term sales would rise in anticipation of a potential tightening of gun regulations.