TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Saturday, January 12, 2008

D.C. Automatic Weapons Lawsuit Shot Down

The BLT has the details on the suit.  Today, such a suit would clearly be preempted by federal law (which preempts almost all suits for injuries caused by firearms).  The story notes that the city might have been able to assert facts that would fit within the exception for complicity in illegal firearm sales, but it didn't.

It also references an act I never heard of in D.C.,

the D.C. Assault Weapons Manufacturing Strict Liability Act of 1990. Under that law, gunmakers, importers, or distributors of assault weapons or machine guns “shall be held strictly liable in tort, without regard to fault or proof of defect, for all direct and consequential damages that arise from bodily injury or death” resulting from discharge of the weapons in the District.

The federal act obviously preempts that local statute.


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For cases within its scope, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act calls for dismissal of even suits filed prior to its effective date.

Posted by: Peter Nordberg | Jan 12, 2008 3:06:32 PM

Yes, it does. I don't think I suggested otherwise, but if I did, it was inadvertent. I actually use the statute in my Torts class in discussing duty.

Posted by: Bill Childs | Jan 12, 2008 6:35:48 PM

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