The Washington Post reports that Dick’s Sporting Goods will no longer sell assault-style firearms, will ban high-capacity magazines and will not sell any guns to people younger than 21, the company announced Wednesday, a significant move for the retail giant in the midst of renewed calls for national gun reform. Chief executive Edward W. Stack made the announcement during an appearance on “Good Morning America”, as well as through a company statement that said “thoughts and prayers are not enough” in the wake of America’s latest mass shooting. Two weeks ago, a gunman killed 17 people, most of them teenagers, in Parkland, Fla., with an AR-15 that was legally purchased. The alleged shooter, Nikolas Cruz, bought a shotgun from a Dick’s store in November, Stack said during the television interview.
Bank of America Corp became the latest financial heavyweight to take aim at gunmakers, saying it would ask clients who make assault rifles how they can help end mass shootings like last week’s massacre at a Florida high school, writes Reuters. Bank of America, the second-biggest U.S. bank by assets, said its request to makers of the military-style weapons was in line with those taken by other financial industry companies to help prevent deadly gun rampages. “An immediate step we’re taking is to engage the limited number of clients we have that manufacture assault weapons for non-military use to understand what they can contribute to this shared responsibility,” the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said in a statement.
Excerpts from Amici Curiae Briefs filed in Newtown parents vs. Bushmaster Firearms
Advertisement by Bushmaster, the company that made the weapon Adam Lanza used in Newtown, Connecticut. Appeared in Huffington Post on Dec. 17, 2012. Credit.
A lawyer for families who lost loved ones in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting told Connecticut’s highest court this week, reports Reuters, that Remington Outdoor Co, the maker of the AR-15 Bushmaster rifle, should be held responsible because its military-themed marketing was designed to appeal to young men like killer Adam Lanza. “They knew they were hitting their mark and Lanza was responding to their marketing,” said lawyer Joshua Koskoff. Lanza, 20, used a Remington AR-15 Bushmaster rifle, a semi-automatic civilian version of the U.S. military’s M-16, to kill 20 school children between the ages of 6 and 7, as well as six adult staff members, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012. To take CHW readers behind the headlines, we excerpt from three of the requests to appear as amicus curiae that were submitted to the Connecticut Supreme Court earlier this year.
From request to appear as amici curiae by physicians Katie Bakes M.D., William Begg M.D., Barbara Blok M.D., Kathleen Clem M.D., Christopher Colwell M.D., Marie Crandall M.D., Michael Hirsh M.D., Stacy Reynolds M.D., Jeffrey Sankoff M.D., and Comilla Sasson M.D.
Amici curiae are emergency physicians and trauma surgeons. Many have been responsible for the treatment of patients who have been shot or affected by the AR-15 or similar military assault weapons, including at Newtown, Aurora, San Bernardino, and Columbine. Their brief elaborates on the reasons why the trial court erred in failing to recognize a Connecticut common law cause of action for negligent entrustment against the makers and sellers of the intrinsically dangerous AR-15 when plaintiffs alleged defendants knew or should have known that entrusting the AR-15 to civilians created an unreasonable risk of harm to the public. The trial court’s holding, if upheld, may have very significant consequences.
The right to be free from the violence and carnage of military weapons, and from the fear of such carnage, is central to our society and our way of life. Connecticut recognized this, as a matter of public policy, when it enacted its semiautomatic assault weapons ban. But this right will be continually threatened if the accountability that a common law cause of action provides is not allowed.
From the request to appear as amici curiae by Trinity Church Wall Street, Attorneys Howard Zelbo, Evan Davis and Elizabeth Vicens of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton.
The operative complaint alleges that each of the defendants was required to take the “most careful precautions” in the conduct of their business of manufacturing, distributing, and selling firearms to consumers. The complaint details the many respects in which the Bushmaster AR-15 is an especially dangerous firearm. It is Trinity’s position that the AR-15 is so dangerous that it should not be sold in the civilian market….
The question thus presented — whether the defendants exercised due care in the context of marketing an especially dangerous weapon — is a question for the finder of fact, here the jury. Notably, knowledge of the absence of precautions need not be actual, it may be constructive, i.e., what the defendants should have known in the exercise of due care. Equally significant, the question of precisely what precautions due care mandates be taken so that an especially dangerous weapon does not fall into incompetent hands also is a question for the jury to decide. In that regard, it is fundamental to the law of torts that the greater the magnitude of the potential harm, the greater the duty of care… Mass slaughter unquestionably ranks at the top of the magnitude of harm spectrum.
In sum, there is a basic question of negligence in this case, and “the trier of fact is, in [Connecticut], given a wide latitude in drawing the inference of negligence.” Unless the Court is willing to hold as a matter of law that sellers of weapons that deliver high-speed death have no duty to take any reasonable precautions to safeguard against those weapons falling into the hands of incompetent and even criminal users, then this case presents the basic, unremarkable jury question of just what due care required.
From the amicus curiae brief of National Shooting Sports Foundation in Support of Defendants-Appellees (Bushmaster Firearms LLC)
These lawsuits have most typically assigned blame to firearm industry members for damages caused when criminals misuse lawfully sold, non-defective firearms. The burden of litigating these lawsuits poses a threat to the hunting and shooting sports industry and to the constitutionally-protected right of access to firearms by law-abiding citizens… The basic tort alleged in this case is negligent entrustment. Contrary to Plaintiffs’ claims, this tort is not predicated on unbounded foreseeability such that the manufacturer of a lawful product may be subject to liability whenever that product goes through a daisy chain of exchanges and ends up in the hands of someone who uses it in a violent and unlawful manner. Rather, as this brief shows, the tort is properly limited to situations in which the person or entity entrusting a product to another actually knows or has reason to know that a specific recipient is likely to use the product in an unlawful or dangerous manner… Plaintiffs’ argument is, at bottom, an effort to have a firearm manufacturer internalize the costs of gun violence because the mother of the perpetrator of a mass shooting happened to lawfully purchase that company’s particular firearm product. This contravenes both well-reasoned tort law and an express purpose of the PLCAA to “prohibit causes of action against manufacturers . . . for the harm solely caused by the criminal or unlawful misuse of firearm products or ammunition products by others when the product functioned as designed and intended.”
Firearm violence injures or kills 100,000 Americans each year. Research on firearm violence tends to focus on two elements-the host (i.e., victims of firearm violence) and the environment (i.e., gun policies)-but little attention has been paid to the agent (the gun and ammunition) or the vector (firearm manufacturers, dealers, and the industry lobby). Using Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives data, trends in firearm manufacturing were investigated from 1990 to 2015. Overall domestic firearms production decreased slightly from 1996 through 2004, and then steadily increased from 1.7% in 2005 to 13.8% in 2013, when >10 million firearms were produced for the domestic market. The increase in total firearm production was driven by the increased production of pistols and rifles. Within the pistol category, increased production was attributable to an increase in higher caliber weapons. Similar trends were observed in gun purchases and recovered and traced crime guns. Trends in firearm manufacturing reveal a shift toward more-lethal weapons, and this trend is also observed in gun purchases and crime gun traces. This may reflect a societal shift in cultural practices and norms related to guns and could inform strategies to reduce firearm violence.
Citation: Smith VM, Siegel M, Xuan Z, Ross CS, Galea S, Kalesan B, Fleegler E, Goss KA. Broadening the Perspective on Gun Violence: An Examination of the Firearms Industry, 1990-2015. Am J Prev Med. 2017. pii: S0749-3797(17)30258-1.
Gary Wintemute doesn’t look like a slayer of gunslingers, writes the Sacramento Bee in a profile of one of the nation’s leading researchers on the gun industry. He’s a bespectacled professor of 65, and speaks in the measured tones of the scientist he is. But for the gun industry, he may be the most dangerous scientist in America, more so starting on July 1. That’s when the University of California will release the first of $5 million to fund the UC Davis Firearms Violence Research Center, located in an unmarked building on Stockton Avenue, across from the UC Davis Medical Center.
Just because gun sales aren’t booming at the same rate they were during the biggest year ever for firearms manufacturers, that doesn’t mean they’re not still rising, writes Fox Business News. Yet the way the market responded to the FBI release of April gun buyer background-check data, you’d think we were in the midst of a major downturn. The fact is, gun sales are surging; 2016 was the biggest year for gun sales. The FBI processed more than 27.5 million background checks last year, 19% more than it had the year before and more than double the number it did a decade ago. Gun sales were mostly driven by political considerations, as many gun owners and enthusiasts anticipated a different outcome in the presidential elections last November. When Donald Trump came out on top, the threat of new gun control legislation was largely removed from the table, and the need to buy a gun right away before new laws were enacted waned. But it didn’t eliminate the demand for new guns; it just deferred them. Gun control doesn’t really affect demand, only the timing of the purchase, typically pulling forward sales that would occur anyway. And that’s what we’re seeing with the FBI’s numbers so far in 2017.
Brazil has a murder problem. It also has a gun problem. Both could get worse if some Brazilian lawmakers have their way, reports Public Radio International. Most of the roughly 60,000 Brazilian citizens violently killed each year die from gunshot wounds. And the majority of the guns doing the killing were made in Brazil. The country is the fourth-largest firearms and ammunition manufacturer on the planet. Now a small group of Brazilian lawmakers is on the verge of worsening the country’s homicide epidemic. Rather than tighten responsible firearms legislation, the so-called Bullet Caucus wants to make weapons even more accessible and untraceable. Their proposed legislation, Bill 3.722, would permit anyone over 21 to own up to six weapons with access to 100 rounds per firearm each year.
The second-highest-ranking official at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has written a proposal to reduce gun regulations, including examining a possible end to the ban on importing assault weapons into the United States, reports The Washington Post. The 11-page “white paper” by Ronald B. Turk, associate deputy director and chief operating officer of the ATF, calls for removing restrictions on the sale of gun silencers; allowing gun dealers to have more guns used in crimes traced to their stores before the federal government requires additional information from the dealer; and initiating a study on lifting the ban on imported assault weapons.
Just as the sugary beverage industry supports initiatives to increase physical activity, the gun industry has found a new cause: suicide prevention. The Associated Press reports that a new initiative by the National Sports Shooting Foundation, the trade association of gun manufacturers, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, seeks to use gun stores and shooting ranges to reach people at risk of suicide. “As with most relationships, we had to get to know one another a bit. We had to see that they were serious, and I’m sure that they had to see that we were not going to be gun control activists,” said Robert Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “We’re interested in not taking guns away, but in limiting access by those who have serious mental health problems and are at risk.” It’s all about practicing safe storage, he said.