More than 30,000 people die and many tens of thousands more are injured every year in the U.S. as a result of gunshot wounds, either self-inflicted or as a result of violence. Firearm manufacturers and dealers are largely shielded from liability by federal law. However, that does not mean they are totally immune.
Recently in Missouri, a pawn shop owner agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a woman whose mentally ill daughter shot and killed her father before attempting suicide on herself. Days before the incident, plaintiff had gone to the pawn shop to beg them not to sell her adult daughter a gun. Just weeks earlier, her daughter had purchased a firearm legally from the shop, only to use it to attempt suicide. Plaintiff explained to the shop owner that her daughter is schizophrenic and may be a danger to herself and others. This request was reportedly ignored.
While immunity statutes enacted by the federal government and 34 states protect gun shops and dealers – but there are exceptions. In 2005, Congress enacted a federal law that gives broad immunity to gun dealers from most civil liability actions asserting injury or death as a result of firearms. Continue reading