Keeler: Court’s Failure to Hear Remington Case Opens Pandora’s Box
Editorial by Bill Keeler, WIBX.
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to hear an appeal by Remington Arms over a lawsuit from the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims is a significant loss for gunmakers; but, it's worse than that.
After Remington Arms won a Connecticut case that protected manufacturers from being held liable, the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed that decision and decided that Remington could indeed be sued and potentially held liable for the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 that killed 28 people, including 20 school children in Newtown, CT.
The shooter, Adam Lanza, used a Bushmaster AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle made by Remington. Remington asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Connecticut decision because traditionally, gun manufacturers have not been held responsible for crimes committed using their guns. Tuesday's U.S. Supreme Court decision not to hear the case is a blow, not just to gun manufacturers and the pro-gun lobby; but, also quite possibly a blow to manufacturers of other unrelated products going forward.
In the case of Remington, there wasn't a defect in the gun, it obviously didn't malfunction and it's common knowledge that guns if misused, can be lethal. The gun was sold through a third party vendor and Remington does not market their guns to be used illegally. How then, can we in good conscience, allow this company to be raped financially in our court system? Remington's only connection is that they legally manufactured - a legal gun - that was ultimately misused in a grotesquely illegal manner.
Remington will now have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to reject a well funded lawsuit that is attempting to hold them liable for the actions of one horribly disturbed young man. Furthermore, as a result, the Supreme Court might just have opened Pandora's box.
Will auto makers now be sued after a death caused by a speeding driver because by design, the car he was driving was able to reach a speed of at least 140 miles per hour?What about alcohol? Will manufacturers of adult beverages be sued after a DWI fatality? After all, 'high octane' beer, wine or spirits can be over-consumed which could then result in irresponsible behavior and ultimately cause death if and when a person gets behind the wheel of a vehicle and drives. Where do we stop?
This non-decision by the Supreme Court will definitely hurt Remington; but, only time will tell if it could serve as a precedence that will negatively impact other manufacturers for years to come. By the way, even sadder is the fact that this case will do nothing to prevent future mass shootings.
What happened at Sandy Hook was horrible and I can't imagine what the families of the victims have gone through. However, it is critical that we don't allow tragedy and emotion to suspend logic and justice in our courts.