Judge Dismisses Lawsuit against Assault Rifle Manufacturer
A Connecticut judge recently dismissed a lawsuit by relatives of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School attack. The lawsuit was filed against the makers of the assault rifle used in the school shooting. The Honorable Barbara N. Bellis of the Connecticut State Superior Court reportedly relied on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act as the basis for her decision to dismiss the civil suit. That federal law provides firearms manufacturers and sellers with broad protection from civil lawsuits when guns are used in crimes. In fact, lawyers for Remington Outdoor, the company that manufactures the AR-15-style Bushmaster rifle used by Adam Lanza in the Newtown Connecticut attack, had argued for dismissal of the lawsuit due to that federal law.
Setting aside the arguments for and against civil liability of the assault rifle manufacturer, the fact remains that New Jersey flat out criminalizes the possession of assault weapons. Under New Jersey’s firearms laws, specifically the law governing unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of an assault weapon is a second degree crime and is punishable by 5-10 years in state prison. N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(f).
The definition of a “weapon” under NJ law can be very specific. For instance, New Jersey gun laws define an “assault firearm” as any of the following: Algimec AGM1 type; any shotgun with a revolving cylinder such as the “Street Sweeper” or “Striker 12”; Armalite AR-180 type; Australian Automatic Arms SAR; Avtomat; Kalashnikov type semi-automatic firearms; Beretta AR-70 and BM59 semi-automatic firearms; Bushmaster Assault Rifle; Calico M-900 Assault carbine and M-900; CETME G3; Chartered Industries of Singapore SR-88 type; Colt AR-15 and CAR-15 series Daewoo K-1, K-2, Max 1 and Max 2, AR 100 types; Demro TAC-1 carbine type; Encom MP-9 and MP-45 carbine types; FAMAS MAS223 types; FN-FAL, FN-LAR, or FN-FNC type semi-automatic firearms; Franchi SPAS 12 and LAW 12 shotguns; G3SA type Galil type; Heckler and Koch HK91, HK93, HK94, MP5, PSG-1; Intratec TEC 9 and 22 semi-automatic firearms; M1 carbine type; M14S type; MAC 10, MAC 11, MAC 11-9 mm carbine type firearms; PJK M-68 carbine type; Plainfield Machine Company Carbine Ruger K-Mini-14/5 and Mini-14/5; SIG AMT, SIG 550SP, SIG 551SP, SIG PE-57 types SKS with detachable magazine type; Spectre Auto carbine type; Springfield Armory BM59 and SAR-48 type; Sterling MK-6, MK-7 and SAR types; Steyr A.U.G. semi-automatic firearms; USAS 12 semi-automatic type shotgun; Uzi type semi-automatic firearms; Valmet M62, M71S, M76, or M78 type semi-automatic firearms; and Weaver Arm Nighthawk.
In addition to that specific list of assault weapons, “assault firearms” also include any firearm manufactured under any designation which is substantially identical to one of the firearms listed above; a semi-automatic shotgun with either a magazine capacity exceeding six rounds, a folding stock, or a pistol grip; a semi-automatic rifle with a fixed magazine capacity exceeding 15 rounds; or a part or combination of parts designed or intended to convert a firearm into an assault firearm, or any combination of parts from which an assault firearm may be readily assembled if those parts are in the possession or under the control of the same person. N.J.S.A. 2C:39-1(w) (1) to (5).