As you can see, Remington said: (1) under the PLCAA, the company is immune to the claims made by the plaintiffs in this case, and (2) the plaintiffs' amended complaint does not sufficiently allege a cause of action that is permitted under the exceptions specified in the PLCAA. That two-part statement does not equate to Radelat's assertion that Remington said the PLCAA provides a "total defense."
With this erroneous and misleading assertion, The Mirror played into the false narrative perpetuated by anti-gun activists (and their supporters in the mainstream media) that the PLCAA is a horrible law because it gives the gun industry a "total defense" against lawsuits under any circumstances. PLCAA critics routinely use that false narrative to attack the law and to sway public opinion against the PLCAA, which is part of their strategy to eventually get the law repealed.
The future of the case is in the hands of Connecticut State Judge Barbara Bellis, who heard arguments from the defendants to dismiss the case in her courtroom in Bridgeport last week.
Katie Mesner-Hage, of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, a lawyer for the Sandy Hook families, said she expects Bellis to make her decision in the fall.
The Newtown case, in which the family of slain Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher’s aide Victoria Soto is lead plaintiff, rests on a narrow exemption in PLCCA [sic].
“We think we found a way through,” Mesner-Hage said.
The crack she sees in the law is an old English common law concept known as “negligent entrustment” that says when you have a dangerous product you have to take care to whom you give or sell it.
This is where the reporter (Radelat) finally got around to mentioning one of the exceptions built into the PLCAA. However, she did so by subjectively describing the exception as "narrow" and making it seem like the plaintiffs' attorneys had to employ some unusual and ingenious approach by resorting to English common law in order to find a chink in the PLCAA's armor.
That is very misleading. The plaintiffs are not relying on an old English common law concept by pursuing the negligent entrustment angle. That exception is written explicitly into the PLCAA itself. All you have to do is read the law to find it.
Actually, you don't even need to read the law to learn about the exception for negligent entrustment. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has published a handy-dandy primer on how to win a lawsuit against the gun industry... by using the PLCAA. According to the Brady Center, the law's negligent entrustment exception is one of the two most important ways to mount a successful lawsuit.
Furthermore, the Brady Center has been proven correct on that point. In a recent lawsuit in Milwaukee, a gun shop was found to have engaged in negligent entrustment when selling a gun, which meant the PLCAA's immunity did not apply. The gun shop was held liable by a jury and was ordered to pay a judgment of nearly $6 million to two policemen who were permanently injured by a criminal who shot them with the gun in question. So, the PLCAA's exception for negligent entrustment has already been successfully used against the gun industry in a court of law.
Despite those realities, The Mirror led readers to believe that the PLCAA favors the gun industry so strongly that plaintiffs must resort to English common law and work around the PLCAA in order to have any hope of getting justice. The Mirror also failed to mention that the allegedly ironclad immunity provided by the PLCAA cannot possibly be as ironclad as the law's critics would have us believe, as already demonstrated in a Milwaukee courtroom.
Why would a news outlet do that? Is it because those revelations would disrupt the anti-PLCAA narrative? In case you're wondering, whether The Mirror intended it or not, that narrative misleads readers and is prejudicial against the PLCAA and its supporters.
You see, if the law's critics make everyone believe that the law provides virtually unlimited protection (i.e. "a total defense") to the evil gun industry, it becomes easier to convince everyone that the law is horribly unfair and should be repealed. This is how they do it.
The plaintiffs say the Bushmaster AR-15 was designed solely for military use, and the sale of it to civilians is negligent entrustment.
“The Bushmaster rifle is a weapon that was designed by the military,” Mesner-Hage said. “How attractive is that to a mass shooter?”
That assertion is a distortion of fact. The AR-15 sprang from the work of Eugene Stoner, a non-military employee of the private-sector company known as ArmaLite. (By the way, the AR stands for ArmaLite rifle, not assault rifle.) In 1955, Stoner completed his design of the AR-10, which he submitted to the U.S. Army for evaluation as an infantry rifle. The AR-10 was rejected. But, at the request of the U.S. military, Stoner's assistants modified the AR-10 to use a smaller caliber cartridge, which is widely used by AR-15's today. The military eventually adopted the automatic version of the modified AR-10 as the M16 machine gun. The semi-automatic (non-military) version became known as the AR-15.
So, to say the military designed the AR-15 is false, even though the initial version that had been designed in the private sector (the AR-10) was modified by the private sector at the military's request. That difference might not seem terribly important, but it must be important to the plaintiffs, since their attorneys have made the decision to put their own spin on the story that doesn't pass the smell test in terms of truthfulness. Once again, the reporter repeated this plaintiff talking point without giving us the whole story.
The gun used in the Orlando killings was a cousin – or maybe brother – to the Bushmaster, a Sig Sauer MCX rifle.
Mesner-Hage said a large jury award “may cause Remington to rethink the cost of selling a combat weapon to civilians.”
First, the AR-15 is not a combat weapon, and Radelat did nothing to correct this latest misleading talking point from the plaintiffs.
Secondly, Radelat failed to pick up on the irony of the lawyer's statement. The lawyer's way of thinking is the exact reason why the PLCAA was enacted in the first place.
Prior to the PLCAA, the gun industry was facing a growing onslaught of getting dragged into court by municipalities and victims of gun violence, seeking to hold the gun industry liable when third parties (i.e. criminals) used firearms to commit crimes, even if the gun industry had done nothing wrong.
Congress passed the PLCAA to shield the gun industry from such lawsuits except for cases in which the gun industry's own actions could be shown to have caused the harm or injury in question, aside from simply manufacturing or marketing a legal product that functions the way it's supposed to.
Congress found this necessary because if the gun industry cannot manufacture and market firearms due to unjustified lawsuit liability, that would pretty much defeat the purpose of having a 2nd Amendment, wouldn't it?
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., thinks so too. He and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., introduced a bill last year that would repeal PLCAA.
“If a business is not shielded from all responsibility, it has a much greater incentive to make its product safer,” he said. “They have no incentive now to install a simple child safety lock on a deadly weapon.”
Once again, Radelat included another misleading, anti-PLCAA talking point without correcting it. The PLCAA does not shield the gun industry from "all responsibility." It merely shields the gun industry from being held liable for the results of crimes and unlawful activity committed by other people. Yes, the statement was made by Senator Blumenthal, but that does not relieve Radelat of her duty to reflect reality. By repeatedly reporting that false narrative about the PLCAA as if it's true, Radelat repeatedly provided support for anti-gun activists who are trying to impugn the PLCAA and get it repealed (whether she meant to or not).
One last thing about Senator Blumenthal's quote, in reference to child safety locks. A requirement in the PLCAA that is never mentioned by the news media is a prohibition against the retail sale or transfer of a handgun to any person other than a person with a firearms license unless the transferee is provided with a secure gun storage or safety device. For some reason, Radelat chose not to tell us that Senator Blumenthal doesn't know what he's talking about.
Blumenthal also said he introduced the PLCCA [sic] repeal because he believed the Sandy Hook families, and now the family members of Orlando’s mass shooting victims and others, “should have their day in court.”
The Sandy Hook lawsuit is seen by many to be the best chance to challenge the legal immunity Congress granted gun manufacturers.
With the paragraph above, the reporter and her editors showed that they either don't understand the law and the lawsuit, or they purposefully chose to lead us to believe the lawsuit is challenging the law itself instead of seeking to recover damages from the defendants.
The lawsuit is not challenging the legal immunity provided under the PLCAA. The plaintiffs allege that the gun industry engaged in negligent entrustment, simply by marketing the AR-15 to the public, which they say qualifies as an exception under the PLCAA and makes the gun industry liable. In this way, the lawsuit is using the law, not fighting against the law. That's 180-degrees the opposite of how The Mirror described it.
But Florida’s victims have another hurdle.
Florida is one of 34 states that gives immunity to gun makers, offering protection a judge may deem more comprehensive than federal law. Connecticut is not one of the 34, making its court system attractive to those who want to sue gun makers.
For instance, Florida requires plaintiffs to cover defense attorney fees if the court sides with the gun manufacturer.
Blumenthal said a repeal of PLCCA [sic] may derail some of those state laws.
The current Congress, however, has been resistant to approving any changes in gun laws, even after a dramatic filibuster by Murphy and a 26-hour “sit-in” on the House floor last week led by Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, and Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.
Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said she supports a repeal of PLCAA – providing a key policy difference with Sen. Bernie Sanders, who said he did not.
Democrats hope to take back the Senate in November’s elections since many GOP senators are in tough races for reelection. If they do, Blumenthal said he thinks the gun liability bill, and other gun control legislation, stand a chance.
“The political and legal landscape is changing tectonically,” he said.
The political and legal landscape is changing tectonically? What did Senator Blumenthal mean by that? I'm not sure, but it sounds rather drastic. Also, with her final few paragraphs, Radelat painted a very optimistic picture for anti-gun leftists. In Radelat's universe, gun haters might take back the U.S. Senate, elect the gun-hating Hillary Clinton as president, and then get the PLCAA repealed! (Note: See Update #2 below.)
This is a classic example of leftists (facilitated by the mainstream media) offering up what they hope will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you read The Mirror's article, and you're a gun-hating leftist, you'll want to get to the voting booth right away and vote for Hillary Clinton and every Democrat on the ballot. Of course, gun-hating leftists were already going to vote for Democrats only, but it always helps voter turnout when they're reminded that Hillary hates the PLCAA as much as they do.
And, The Mirror also made sure to tell gun-hating Democrats who had supported Senator Bernie Sanders in the presidential primary why they should join Team Hillary, because some have reportedly been reluctant to do so.
The Bottom Line
The Mirror took that flimsy pretense for a news story and turned it into an article that simply became another assault by the mainstream news media on the PLCAA, as well as a vehicle to give more publicity to the high-profile gun violence that occured in Newtown and Orlando. And, let's not forget that the article also helps illustrate why anyone who wants to stop the evil gun industry and the NRA (and shouldn't we all want that?) should vote for Hillary Clinton as president and other Democrats for Congress, because they want to repeal the PLCAA. Without those three left-wing angles, it's hard to imagine why a group of lawyers having preliminary talks with another group of lawyers could be deemed newsworthy.
I don't know what motivated The Mirror to publish the article this way. This critique speaks to the effects the article has on readers, not the intentions or professional integrity of The Mirror's reporters and editors. Regardless of their intent, however, it's obvious they need to work much harder to remove left-wing bias from their publication. They seem to have done very little along those lines with this article.