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Why Shooting Victims Can't Win Lawsuits Against Gunmakers

An AR-15 rifle similar to the gun used by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook school shooting
An AR-15 rifle similar to the gun used by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook school shootingPhotographer: Getty Images

To the liberal imagination, suing firearm companies in the wake of gun violence has tremendous appeal. Grieving victims demand that judges and juries punish corporations profiting from deadly products. If legislators won’t pass tougher gun control, the argument goes, then crusading lawyers will seek justice in court. But the strategy hasn’t worked in the past—and it won’t work in the future.

The latest attempt to sue a gunmaker for firearm mayhem is under way in Connecticut. Nine families of victims and one survivor marked the second anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre by filing a wrongful-death suit against Bushmaster Firearms in state court. Bushmaster, you’ll recall, made the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle used by the killer of 20 first-graders and six educators.