Politics

Nevada Court Signals Suit Against Smith & Wesson is Improper

Amid ongoing litigation brought by anti-gun Smith & Wesson shareholders over continued AR-15 production, Nevada’s Clark County District Court signals no “substantial likelihood” Smith & Wesson will be found liable, saying the activist shareholders appear not to be aligned with the company’s best interest and requiring them to post a half-million-dollar bond to continue their suit.

On December 5, 2023, Breitbart News reported that that lawsuit against Smith & Wesson was brought by a group of anti-gun nuns, shareholders all, who claimed the gun maker “knowingly allowed the Company to become exposed to significant liability for intentionally violating federal, state, and local laws through its manufacturing, marketing, and sales of AR-15 style rifles and similar semiautomatic firearms.”

The plaintiffs made clear they were aware of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) but suggested the Act does would not protect Smith & Wesson because they continued making AR-15s after one of their rifles was used in a high profile shooting.

The nuns suggested the “board’s unwillingness to exercise any oversight whatsoever in connection with the Company’s illicit manufacturing, marketing, and sales of AR-15 rifles” removes the company from PLCAA protections.

However, a record of the February 20, 2024, exchanges between Clark County District Judge Joe Hardy and attorneys for both plaintiffs and defendants tells a story which shows Smith & Wesson is unlikely liable in the suit.

Hardy noted various reasons for this unlikelihood, one of which was a victory for the anti-gun shareholders would deliver not “benefit the corporation or its security holders.” The transcript of court proceedings make clear that Hardy does not believe the anti-gun shareholders’ positions are in line with the vast majority of Smith & Wesson shareholders.

On December 5, ,2023, Breitbart News noted that the anti-gun shareholders described AR-15 rifles as “machineguns” which should be regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA). Having posited this argument, they then claimed Smith & Wesson violates federal law by not limiting sales to buyers who submit to NFA guidelines/requirements.

Moreover, the anti-gun shareholders claimed “AR- 15-style rifles have been the weapon of choice for the killers responsible for the deadliest mass shootings in American history, including the recent mass murders in: (i) Buffalo, New York; (ii) Uvalde, Texas; (iii) Highland Park, Illinois; (iv) Colorado Springs, Colorado; (v) Nashville, Tennessee; (vi) Louisville, Kentucky; (vii) Allen, Texas; and (viii) Lewiston, Maine.”

Ironically, they do not mention the April 16, 2007, Virginia Tech University shooting in which an attacker armed with two handguns killed more people than were killed in any of the seven attacks they laid at the feet of AR-15s. The Virginia Tech attacker killed 32 people.

The court also ruled that the plaintiffs’ use of graphic images in their filings apparently had no legitimate reason to be included.

The judge also required the plaintiffs’ to post $500,000 as a bond in this case, which means that if Smith & Wesson wins, the plaintiffs’ will forfeit that money. This too signals that the judge is skeptical of the merits of the plaintiffs’ arguments, and is making them put real skin in the game to continue the challenge.

AR-15 rifles–and AR-15 variants–are made by numerous companies and comprise the most popular rifle and rifle platform in the United States.

What kind of demand exists for the AR-15 rifle/platform? On January 12, 2024, Breitbart News pointed to National Shooting Sports Foundation numbers showing there were over 28 million AR/AK-style rifles in the U.S. as of 2021, and that figure has certainly seen exponential growth during the past three years.

The suit is Adrian Dominican Sisters v. Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc., No. A-23-882774-B in the District Court of Clark County, Nevada.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a pro-staffer for Pulsar Night Vision. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in 2010 and holds a Ph.D. in Military History, with a focus on the Vietnam War (brown water navy), U.S. Navy since Inception, the Civil War, and Early Modern Europe. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com.



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