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US judge asks Nevada high court if gun makers can be liable

SeattlePI.com Tuesday, 12 May 2020
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A U.S. judge is asking Nevada’s highest court to decide whether state law allows gun manufacturers and sellers to be held liable for deaths as he considers a lawsuit from the parents of a victim of the deadliest mass shooting in the nation's modern history.

Federal law generally protects gun manufacturers and dealers when crimes are committed with their products. A negligence and wrongful death lawsuit filed last year in Las Vegas accuses eight firearms makers and several shops in Nevada and Utah of letting weapons be easily modified to fire like automatic weapons.

A shooter in 2017 outfitted weapons with “bump stock" attachments that let him fire in rapid succession from a Las Vegas high-rise hotel into an open-air concert crowd, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds of others.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon asked last month for the ruling from the Nevada Supreme Court, saying there are “important public policy ramifications.” A hearing has not yet been set.

“I am particularly concerned," Gordon wrote, that attorneys for the gun makers argued they would be immune from liability under state law even if they “manufactured and sold Tommy guns or M-16 rifles to civilians.”

Attorneys for Colt’s Manufacturing Co. and 11 other defendants did not immediately respond to telephone and email messages.

James and Ann-Marie Parsons of Seattle, whose 31-year-old daughter Carolyn Lee “Carrie” Parsons died in the shooting, are seeking unspecified monetary damages. Their lawyer, Richard Friedman, said Tuesday that “federal law provides a lot of immunity, but not total immunity.”

“We’re saying you were selling guns that meet the definition of machine guns in violation of federal law, so you don’t get protection," he said.

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Video credit: KTNV Channel 13 Las Vegas - Published
News video: Push to override law that protects gun dealers

Push to override law that protects gun dealers 00:31

A U.S. judge is asking Nevada's highest court to override a law that protects gun makers and dealers. The judge's request accuses them of making it too easy to modify weapons so they fire like automatics.

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