Soto v. Bushmaster

Michael Harless Firearms Law, Supreme Court of Connecticut

Today, May 30, 2017, we filed an amicus brief in the Connecticut Supreme Court in support of gun manufacturers Bushmaster and Remington, who had been sued by the families of the Sandy Hook school shooting victims.

The plaintiffs in the case had brought a “negligent entrustment” claim, arguing that the AR-15 style rifle should never have been sold because it was foreseeable that it would be used in the crime.  However, as we pointed out, neither the manufacturer, distributor, nor dealer did anything wrong with respect to this particular sale — the essence of a legal negligent entrustment claim.  Rather, the Plaintiffs instead were making the policy argument that generally no one should ever be permitted to sell any AR-15.  In other words, they were asking judges to legislate to ban AR-15 style rifles.

Our brief also dispelled the false claims made by the plaintiffs’ attorneys about AR-15 style rifles.  They had argued that AR-15s are “so powerful,” yet as we pointed out, the .223/5.56 cartridge is on the low to medium end of most center-fire rifle calibers.  The plaintiffs had argued the AR-15 is “so accurate” that it’s not even necessary to aim, but we argued that the platform is not any more inherently accurate than most other modern rifles, and in fact the lightweight bullet means other calibers far outclass it at distance.  The plaintiffs had argued that the AR-15 is “so destructive,” yet as we argued, it doesn’t hold a candle to most other popular calibers like the .308 and the .30-06.  Finally, the Plaintiffs had argued the AR-15 is a “feat of human engineering.”  Of course, the AR-15 is a well designed and popular rifle, but it’s nothing more than the latest in a long line of advancements in firearms technology.  When the semi-automatic firearm, the lever action firearm, and the breech loading firearm were developed, each one was capable of much greater firepower than the firearms which proceeded them.  Yet no one wants to ban the lever action .30-30.

The Sandy Hook shooting was a terrible tragedy.  But the AR-15 is not to blame.  Neither is Remington, Bushmaster, the distributor, or the dealer who lawfully and responsibly sold one to Adam Lanza’s mother years before her son murdered her, stole her firearms, and used them for evil.

Link to brief