Last week’s massacre at a Las Vegas country music festival offers gun control advocates a fresh chance to test a law, put in place by Republicans and the gun industry’s lobby, that protects the industry from liability for the criminal actions of some of their customers.
Starting with a lawsuit filed late last week in Nevada state court, the effort follows similar litigation over mass killings, most notably those of 20 elementary school children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut. In most cases, the plaintiffs fail to overcome the law’s high bar for liability, but with the Harvest 91 Festival, where almost 60 died and more than 500 were injured, that pattern may shift.
A dozen bump stocks, which allow a semi-automatic weapon to fire with the speed of an automatic weapon, were found in gunman Stephen Paddock’s 32nd-floor Mandalay Bay Resort hotel room. The complaint, which was filed in Clark County District Court and seeks class action status, alleges that Slide Fire Solutions, a bump stock manufacturer, and other, unidentified makers and retailers behaved negligently in selling and producing these devices.
“This horrific assault did not occur, could not occur, and would not have occurred with a conventional handgun, rifle, or shotgun, of the sort used by law-abiding responsible gun owners for hunting or self-defence,” the complaint states.
The named plaintiffs include Devon Prescott, Brooke Freeman, and Tasaneeporn Upright, all residents of Nevada who represent the potential class. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages as well as funds to pay for the victims’ counselling and treatment for emotional distress. The three are represented by the Las Vegas law firm Eglet Prince and by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Slide Fire didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Victims of mass shootings have sued in the past. Following the Newtown school shooting in 2012, suits were filed against Remington Arms. The…