Lytton Provides Expertise in Revival of Gun Industry Litigation

Ten years ago, professor Timothy Lytton’s edited volume Suing the Gun Industry: A Battle at the Crossroads of Gun Control and Mass Torts was published. The book analyzes a wave of lawsuits against firearms sellers brought by gun-violence victims and municipalities that ended when the Congress granted the gun industry immunity from civil liability. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005, passed shortly after the book’s publication, shields gun sellers from liability for injuries arising out of criminal misuse of the weapons that they sell.

Several recent high profile cases suggest that there may be a revival of gun industry litigation underway. In October, a Wisconsin jury awarded two police officers $5.7 million in a lawsuit against a gun store whose clerk knowingly sold a weapon to a straw-purchaser, who gave the gun to an 18-year-old who used it to shoot the officers. In a pending second case, families of Sandy Hook shooting victims are suing Remington, the manufacturer of the Bushmaster AR-15, a military-grade assault rifle used by the killer.

Media outlets covering these cases and other recent mass shootings, including the massacres at Umpqua Community College in Oregon and the social services building in San Bernardino, California, have turned to Lytton to comment on the legal issues. He has been interviewed by media outlets across the nation and the world, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Guardian, MSNBC and Radio Sputnik Moscow.

Although Lytton suggests that new gun control legislation is unlikely in the current political climate, he believes that “civil liability exposure may encourage the gun industry to manage its supply chain in ways that could reduce the incidence of illegal sales.”