Reactions, Pro And Con, To Connecticut Supreme Court Ruling

As you can well imagine the gun prohibitionists are ecstatic over the Connecticut Supreme Court’s constitutionally dubious ruling in Soto et al v. Bushmaster et al today. Both the Brady Campaign and the Giffords Law Center had filed amicus briefs in the case.

From the Brady Campaign which has been working hard to punch holes in the Protection of Legal Commerce in Arms Act for many years:

Justices have reversed a lower court ruling allowing the lawsuit to move forward and put the question to a jury of whether or not Remington and gun dealers can be held accountable for its role in the 2012 shooting. The lawsuit argues that the assault-style weapon used in the massacre had knowingly been marketed to the public despite being designed for military use. It is also argued that the weapon’s marketing deliberately appealed to young people, particularly those like the 20-year-old who killed 26 people in Newtown, Connecticut.


“This is a good day for justice and for victims of gun violence everywhere,” stated Brady President, Kris Brown. “The law requires everyone, particularly businesses, to operate in a way that will not cause foreseeable harm. It’s time for gun companies to be held to this same standard, and stop being allowed to put profits over people. Brady stands ready to continue our support of Sandy Hook families in their quest for justice.”


For 30 years Brady’s legal team has led the way in winning precedent setting cases that hold gun companies accountable for their role in gun crimes. These cases are reining in and challenging gun industry protection laws, and include a negligent marketing claim against the maker of an assault weapon used in a mass shooting in 1993. This case was discussed at length in today’s decision. Brady’s team provided advice and counsel to the Sandy Hook lawyers throughout the case, also filing an amicus brief in support of plaintiffs.


“We are happy that the Sandy Hook families will get the day in court they deserve. Companies that choose to market weapons of war to the public should not get a free pass from the duty to use the reasonable care that every other person or business must follow,” stated Brady’s VP of Legal, Jon Lowy. “It is unfortunate that the gun industry’s special protection law forced these grieving families to endure years of appeals to get what should be rightfully theirs — their day in court and an opportunity to prove their case. Thankfully this court recognized that if you unreasonably market weapons of war to the public, you can be held accountable for the consequences.”

Reader of this blog know that not one military in the world has adopted the semi-automatic AR-15 or its progeny for use. Calling it a “weapon of war” and “designed for military use” is an outright lie and both Brown and Lowy know it.

Likewise, the Cult of Personality’s Legal Arm otherwise known as Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has weighed in on the ruling with a comment from Adams Skaggs who is their chief counsel.

“Today’s decision is a victory for the families of Sandy Hook and a victory for the principle that no industry is above the law or above accountability. The Connecticut Supreme Court squarely rejected the idea that any industry, no matter how powerful, can slam the courthouse doors shut to the victims of their illegal marketing practices. Now, these families who suffered so much will have the day in court they rightly deserve. We look forward to working with them as this case moves forward, and to supporting all victims of American gun violence as they pursue justice.”

Understandably, those who stand for the rule of law and the recognition that the liability for the criminal misuse of any legal product lies with the criminal were not pleased with this ruling.

Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation responded strongly saying, in part:

“This ruling strains logic, if not common sense,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The court dismissed the bulk of the lawsuit’s allegations, but appears to have grasped at this single straw by deciding that the advertising is somehow at fault for what did that day in December more than six years ago.


“This is like suing Ford or General Motors because a car they sold was stolen and used to run over a pedestrian all because the car manufacturers advertised that their car had better acceleration and performance than other vehicles,” he added.


, 20, first killed his mother and took her legally-purchased Bushmaster rifle to the school, where he murdered 20 youngsters and six adults. The lawsuit contends that Remington’s advertising was designed to glorify the Bushmaster rifle and enhance its appeal to younger consumers.

Justice Richard Palmer, writing for the majority, said that the “regulation of advertising that threatens the public’s health, safety, and morals has long been considered a core exercise of the state’s police powers.”


“That is absurd in this case,” Gottlieb observed. “Did the advertising even remotely suggest that the Bushmaster is best for murdering people? It appears to me like the court was looking for a way to squeak around the provisions of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act that Congress passed in 2005. After all, the court dismissed most of the allegations, but now has decided that advertising might be at fault. That’s a stretch of credulity worthy of surgical elastic.”


“There is no evidence the killer was driven by any advertising whatsoever,” he said. “This is an affront to the First Amendment as well as the Second. Even hinting that the killer was motivated in some way by an advertising message is so far out in the weeds that it may take a map for the court to find its way back.”

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is located in Newtown, Connecticut and whom is the actual lobby for the firearms industry, also disagreed with the majority’s opinion in the ruling. While a bit more circumspect that the SAF’s comment, it still expresses their displeasure.

NEWTOWN, Conn. – The Connecticut Supreme Court today reversed (4-3) a state Superior Court ruling and decided in Soto v. Bushmaster that the case can go forward based on the plaintiffs’ allegation that the defendants marketing and advertising of a legal product somehow violated Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). The Court’s split decision held that CUTPA fit within an exemption to the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) that permits lawsuits where the defendant violated a statute applicable to the sale of firearms. In a strongly worded and well-reasoned dissent, Chief Justice Robinson rejected the majority’s overly broad interpretation of the scope of the limited exception, which is contrary to legislative text, canons of statutory interpretation and the legislative history of the PLCAA. The majority’s decision today is at odds with all other state and federal appellate courts that have interpreted the scope of the exception. As the trade association for the firearms industry, the National Shooting Sports Foundation® filed an amicus brief in support of the defendants in this case and both respectfully disagrees with and is disappointed by the court’s majority decision.

Finally, from what I can tell from an internet search, neither Cerberus Capital Management nor Remington Outdoor Company have issued statements.

NSSF Analysis Of The Midterms

The National Shooting Sports Foundation sent out an email yesterday analyzing the midterm elections for their impact on the firearms industry as well as on firearm regulations. They will also be having a pair of webinars next Tuesday afternoon which I hope to be able to watch. I’ll report on those afterwards.

I think the NSSF is correct in that a lot of bills will be proposed and may even pass the House dealing with gun control. These will then die in the Senate. They refer to the Senate as the Red Wall. I think they are also correct that the pace at which new judges will be confirmed will pick up.

From the NSSF:

A Blue Ripple, A Red Senate Wall And What It Means For The Firearms Industry

The
results are still trickling in on Wednesday, but we’re getting a
clearer picture of what we can expect when it comes to the next two
years for gun laws in the United States.

Conventional
wisdom says that the party in the White House loses “bigly” when it
comes to the midterm elections, but last night’s results are proving
different. We’re seeing more of a mixed bag in the Congressional
results, a changing landscape in the governorships and gun control
advocates that spent big and claim victory. But that call might be a bit premature.

House of Representatives

The U.S. House of Representatives will flip back to Democrat control in the 116th Congress.
There are several West Coast races still awaiting final counts, but Fox
News’ Karl Rove predicted the final count will be 228-207 in favor of
Democrats, which will see the Speaker of the House’s gavel change hands.

Prevailing sentiment says Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will again become house speaker, but many incumbent and congressmen-elect have vowed to not support her
for the top leadership spot. We can expect short-term leadership
power-plays, but they will have little effect on what we will eventually
see in the next two years from the House.

What it Means

The “Blue Wave” wasn’t the tsunami gun
control advocates expected, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see a flood
of gun control bills. Rep. Pelosi promised Floridians when she visited
there in October that gun control would be a “top priority” in the
coming year. She said then that she’d push for a gun background check bill, which we can only assume means what she’s already advocated for in universal background checks.

Expect more. Virginia Democratic Congresswoman-elect Jennifer Wexton defeated Rep. Barbara Comstock on a platform that included banning AR-15 modern
sporting rifles and standard-capacity magazines. She’s just one of
several newly elected members of Congress who will be looking to make
good on their campaign promises.

Expect
the House to turn from a legislative body to an investigative body.
Democrats will take over every committee chairmanship. We should expect
little to get done in the way of legislation because they’ll be more
interested in investigating everything from impeachment to Russian collusion to President Donald Trump’s tax returns. And firearms will be in the mix too. Expect hearings on
taxpayer-funded gun violence research, magazine restrictions,
ammunition bans, age-based gun bans and attempts to outright ban entire
classes of firearms.

Senate

If
the House was the “Blue Ripple,” the U.S. Senate served as the Red
Wall. And it got bigger. Republicans appeared to pick up at least net
three seats, including North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer beating Heidi
Heitkamp, Missouri’s Josh Hawley defeating Claire McCaskill, Florida’s
Rick Scott topping Bill Nelson and Indiana’s Mike Braun overcoming Joe
Donnelly. Nevada’s Sen. Dean Heller lost to Jacky Rosen, turning one
Republican seat blue. Votes are still being counted in Arizona, and
Mississippi is headed for a runoff. The first and most glaring lesson is
that with the exception of Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), each of these
Democratic senators voted against Supreme Court Justice Brett
Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

What it Means

Most
importantly, the Senate has been called the saucer that cools the hot
tea that comes over from the House. It’s been a frustrating
characteristic at times, but now will become a reality that benefits the
firearms industry and gun owners. Legislation can pass the House by
simple majority, even if it’s just one vote. But it only takes one
senator to kill a bad bill.

It also means that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is going to keep up the blistering pace of
confirming judges to the bench and Trump Administration nominees won’t
be automatically mired in the morass of politics. That’s especially important when
it comes to the Supreme Court. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen
Breyer are in their eighties. Neither has indicated a desire to retire,
but no one foresaw that President Trump would nominate and confirm two
justices in his first two years either.

More to Come

We’re
still sifting through all the results, including state governorships,
state legislatures and ballot initiatives. Tune in when NSSF hosts webinars on
what the midterm election results mean to our industry and what we can
expect. You can know this much: NSSF will remain engaged, fighting
against legislation that hurts our industry and that infringes on our
rights while working to America safer while respecting our liberties.

Remind Me Again Why SHOT Show Continues To Be In Vegas

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The largest convention centers in the United States are not in Las Vegas. The largest, McCormick Place, is in Chicago and then the second largest, the Orange County Convention Center, is in Orlando, Florida. The Sands Expo Center which is the site of the SHOT Show comes in at tenth in size.

I can understand why McCormick Place was not chosen for the SHOT Show. Despite its size which I can assure you is huge having driven right past it twice in the last week, no one in their right mind would want to hold a convention in January in frigid Chicago. I won’t even speak to the anti-gun politics of Chicago as a reason to avoid having the firearms industry trade show there.

I come from the school of rewarding our friends and punishing our enemies.

Nevada voters just elected Democrats to three out of four House seats including one flipped seat, ousted Dean Heller (R-NV) in favor of Jacky Rosen (D-NV) in the Senate, flipped the governor’s office from Republican to Democrat, hold both houses of the state legislature, and now have only one Republican official, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, elected statewide. The Las Vegas Sun opines that Democrat dominance of the state should continue thanks to Latinos and young voters. I’m sure you might want to add (some) ex-pat Californians to that list as well.

Contrast this with the State of Florida. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) beat Tallahasse Mayor Andrew Gillum (D-FL) for the governorship. Rick Scott (R-FL) beat three-term incumbent Bill Nelson (D-FL) for the US Senate. Republicans hold the other three statewide offices (AG, Ag Commissioner, and Chief Finance Officer). Despite losing two seats in House delegation to Democrats, Republicans still hold a 14 to 13 edge. They are also projected to hold majorities in both the state House and Senate.

The Sands Expo Center which is the location of the SHOT Show in Las Vegas has about 1.2 million square feet of exposition space. Earlier this year it was announced that the SHOT Show would expand their venue to include the MGM Grand Conference Center in 2020 and the Caesars Forum in 2021. According to the announcement, it is due to running out of space at the Sands Expo Center and having to turn away potential exhibitors.

The Orange County Convention Center, by contrast, has 2.1 million square feet of exposition space and is the nation’s second largest convention center. You would not need to expand the SHOT Show to multiple locations to handle the growth in exhibitors. OCCC also has over 6,000 parking spaces. Orlando does have fewer hotel rooms with “only” about 121,000 rooms as compared to Las Vegas which has approximately 175,000 rooms available. However, when you expand out of the city limits of Orlando to places like St. Cloud and Kissimmee you thousands of more rooms. Another advantage to Orlando is the generally warmer, even balmy, weather you are likely to find there in January.

I would be all for immediately switching the 2020 SHOT Show from Nevada to Florida for many of the reasons mentioned above including more space and a gun friendlier location. However, it won’t happen overnight.

 The fly or flies in the ointment on making the switch are two-fold. First, the National Shooting Sports Foundation has extended their contract with the Sands Expo Center through 2027. I don’t know if this is because they got a better deal from Sheldon Adelson or because they just were very familiar with the location. The second issue is a shooting range large enough to handle Industry Day at the Range. The Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club is outstanding in that regard. There are a number of shooting ranges in Central Florida but nothing approaching it that I know of.

To conclude, the gun industry has changed from being a boys’ club to being more inclusive of women and families. You see fewer and fewer “booth babes” at the SHOT Show and the NRA Annual Meeting than in the past. It would be nice if the industry’s major event would leave Las Vegas behind and move to a more gun and family friendly location like Orlando. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Has Your Business Been Stopped from Using Google AdWords/AdSense?

The National Shooting Sports Foundation sent out an email today regarding a class action suit against Google. If you or your business had their AdWords or AdSense account canceled as a result of advertising certain items including firearms, knives, and crossbows, you may qualify as a class action plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in San Jose, California.

Read the full details below. If this pertains to you and your business, by all means investigate it. The othering and stigmatizing of those in the firearms, self-defense, and Second Amendment community by the large social media technology companies needs to stop. Hitting them in the wallet is one of the better ways to get them to back off.

If your company was prevented from using Google AdWords/AdSense you are being invited to join a class action lawsuit that is now pending in federal court in San Jose, California.

To qualify, a person or company must have had its AdWords/AdSense account suspended or terminated by Google LLC between March 2014 and September 2017 based on the fact their websites advertised “any products that (i) were designed to injure an opponent in sport, self-defense or combat such as knives, crossbows and guns or (ii) which comprised any part or component necessary to the function of a gun (iii) or which were intended for attachment to a gun” in violation of Google’s “dangerous products or services policy.”

You do not necessarily have to hold an FFL to become a plaintiff in this lawsuit. Your business does not need to be based in California, it can be located anywhere in the United States.

No attorney fees or costs will be charged to join this federal class action lawsuit. Rather, plaintiff’s counsel will be paid by court order on a contingent basis.

If you are interested in learning more or in participating in the case you should directly contact William McGrane, Esq., who is acting as putative class action counsel in the pending federal class action lawsuit by emailing him at william.mcgrane@mcgranepc.com. Mr. McGrane’s contact information and biography may be viewed at www.mcgranepc.com.

Changes Coming To NSSF Leadership

Steve Sanetti has been President and CEO of the National Shooting Sports Foundation since 2008 and was President of Sturm, Ruger before that. The NSSF has announced a succession plan for when Sanetti retires at the end of 2019. Joseph Bartozzi, Executive VP and General Counsel of Mossberg, will become the new President of NSSF on September 10, 2018 with plans that he assume the CEO role on Sanetti’s 2019 retirement.

Bartozzi has been with Mossberg for the last 32 years in a variety of positions. He is also the Chairman of the Board of SAAMI and is a NRA certified RSO. You can read more about Bartozzi in the NSSF’s announcment below.

From NSSF:

NEWTOWN, Conn. — The Board of Governors of the National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the trade association to the firearms industry, today announced that O.F. Mossberg & Son’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Joseph Bartozzi, will be the organization’s next President. Bartozzi will assume his new duties Sept. 10, 2018.

Joseph BartozziCurrent President and CEO Steve Sanetti will stay on in his CEO capacity through his retirement at the end of 2019, at which point Bartozzi will take over those additional duties.

Bartozzi has spent the majority of his career with Mossberg, joining the company in July 1986. His time with Mossberg included a wide variety of positions, including Quality Engineer, Quality Manager, Product Service Manager, Director of Technical Services, Director of Manufacturing Operations and Corporate Attorney.

Bartozzi currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI); Treasurer and Member of NSSF’s Board of Governors; Board Member and Chairman of the Governance Committee of the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports (CAHSS); Committee Member for the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM); and Technical Advisor to the Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners (AFTE). He is also certified as a Range Safety Officer (RSO) by the National Rifle Association. Bartozzi was nominated for the 2013 “Person of the Year” by SHOT Business magazine, a nomination reprised in 2014.

In 2015, Bartozzi was admitted to the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court. A member of the Connecticut and Maine State Bar Associations, he holds three professional certifications from the American Society for Quality (ASQ), and he is a member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).

“The Board of Governors agreed that Joe’s unique set of experiences and skills will provide NSSF and the firearms industry with the strong leadership needed to ensure we can continue our mission of promoting, protecting and preserving hunting and the shooting sports for generations to come,” said Robert Scott, Vice Chairman of Smith & Wesson and NSSF’s Board of Governors Chairman.

“I have known Joe Bartozzi for more than 20 years, on both personal and professional levels, and I believe he is an exemplary choice for this important position,” said Sanetti. “I know that he will work extremely hard to further our mission for the benefit of our industry and its customers, and I am very much looking forward to working together with Joe during this transitional period in the coming year.”

“I’ve had a tremendous career thus far at Mossberg, one for which I’m most thankful,” said Bartozzi. “As difficult as it is to leave that fine organization after 30 years, it is an honor to now take on a leadership position that will work to successfully conquer the challenges and seize the opportunities before us for the benefit of all our industry members.”

NSSF “Backs President’s Selection” Of Kavanaugh

The National Shooting Sports Foundation weighed in on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy. They approve.

From NSSF:

The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the trade association for the firearms, ammunition and related industries, tonight expressed its strong support for President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to become an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

“We are pleased to lend our support to President Trump’s nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and urge the Senate to approve his nomination before the next term begins on the first Monday in October,” said Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “We are confident that Judge Kavanaugh will serve our nation with distinction as an Associate Justice of our nation’s highest court and that he will make decisions that will serve to protect the Second Amendment and other Constitutionally guaranteed rights of law-abiding Americans.”

Ryan Cleckner On Head And Scope Position

Ryan Cleckner is the author of the Long Range Shooting Handbook and a former Ranger sniper. His book is an excellent primer on getting started in long range shooting.

In this video for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Cleckner discusses the proper positioning of your head and scope for prone long range shooting. He makes an excellent point when he says if it isn’t right, change it. The scope and stock should adjust to you and not the other way around.

NSSF Expels Dick’s Sporting Goods

The National Shooting Sports Foundation Board of Governors voted to expel Dick’s Sporting Goods from membership in the organization.  They were expelled for “conduct detrimental to the best interests of the Foundation.” The conduct was hiring a firm of anti-gun lobbyists to push more gun control.  If a company wanted to push away the hunters and shooters in their customer base, Dick’s is doing a damn good job of it.

The full release is below:

NEWTOWN, Conn. — The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industries, Board of Governors today unanimously voted to expel Dick’s Sporting Goods from membership for conduct detrimental to the best interests of the Foundation.
Dick’s Sporting Goods recently hired a Washington D.C.-based government affairs firm, for “[l]obbying related to gun control.” Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Edward W. Stack announced earlier this year the retail chain would end sales of modern sporting rifles, voluntarily raise the age to 21 to purchase firearms in their stores and called for more restrictive legislation. Dick’s later announced they would destroy the remaining modern sporting rifle inventory. NSSF responded that business decisions should be individually made, but was nonetheless disappointed and the decision does not reflect the reality of the vast majority of law-abiding gun owners.

NSSF Comment On New YouTube Policy

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has weighed in on YouTube’s new policy regarding firearms-related videos. NSSF also notes that they themselves have over 500 videos uploaded to YouTube.

The NSSF statement:

YOUTUBE’S NEW POLICY PROVIDES CAUSE FOR CONCERN

YouTube’s announcement this week of a new firearms content policy is troubling. We suspect it will be interpreted to block much more content than the stated goal of firearms and certain accessory sales. Especially worrisome is the potential for blocking educational content that serves an instructional and skill-building purpose. YouTube’s policy announcement has also served to invite political activists to flood their review staff with complaints about any video to which they may proffer manufactured outrage.

Much like Facebook, YouTube now acts as a virtual public square. The exercise of what amounts to censorship, then, can legitimately be viewed as the stifling of commercial free speech, which has constitutional protection. Such actions also impinge on the Second Amendment.

Facebook Precedent

In what we see as a parallel situation, Facebook has repeatedly shut down the pages of legitimate and reputable firearms retailers that were following Facebook’s own rules. The interpretation depended on the reviewers, the vast majority of whom have little familiarity with our business practices, let alone our products, and many of whom do not even do their work from American soil.

Both First and Second Amendment rights are essential to the liberty we enjoy as American citizens. In a very real sense, the de facto curtailment of First Amendment right of its firearm related business users, YouTube is edging toward simultaneously infringing upon the Second Amendment rights of the customers of these affected businesses.

Commerce in Firearms is Essential

As Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote in his 36-page opinion, “Our forefathers recognized that the prohibition of commerce in firearms worked to undermine the right to keep and bear arms.”

This argument can be logically extended to social media platforms. It is time that social media platform management realizes its broader collective responsibility since it commands so much of today’s virtual public square. Suppressing the expression of First Amendment protected political speech and of commercial speech is wrong, even if they think they are acting in the public interest. The resulting impingement of lawful commerce in firearms that brings with it the infringement of Second Amendment rights is equally wrong and it should stop.