Hillary Clinton today attacked Bernie Sanders’ response to the question “Should shooting victims be able to sue gun manufacturers?” Sanders was absolutely correct in his response and Clinton’s attack shows she has no understanding of American legal jurisprudence despite being a lawyer herself.
Of course, shooting incidents like Sandy Hook – in which a gunman massacred 20 first graders – are horrific and tragic. But, as all attorneys and legal scholars know, emotion is a red herring. The legal issue is whether a manufacturer should be liable for an illegal use to which its product is put.
If I am run over by the driver of a car, I sue the driver. I do not sue the manufacturer of the car. Cars, like guns, are products that are legal to manufacture. The only time it would be proper to sue the manufacturer of a legally produced product would be if the product caused the death due to a manufacturing defect. If the car or the gun was not defective and their use resulted in a death solely because of the willful and deliberate actions of the guilty individual, then the manufacturer has no liability. Sue the driver, sue the shooter, but there is no legal rationale to sue the manufacturer.
This is a case of improper use of a legally manufactured product. The manufacturer did nothing wrong. It did not make, nor did it market, its product for the explicit purpose of murdering schoolchildren. The fault, blame, and liability lie with the individual who misused the product and not with the manufacturer.