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Negligent entrustment claims challenge protective gun law

If someone you love has been killed through gun violence, it would be natural to feel angry about this, and maybe even want to sue. But because of federal law providing a degree of immunization for gun manufacturers and dealers for criminal misuse of their firearms, such lawsuits can be an uphill battle. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), specifically, is a federal law that was passed in 2005, making it difficult for individuals to sue gun manufacturers or dealers in wrongful death claims. But there are still ways such lawsuits can go forward.

One approach that is gaining some traction in a recent Missouri case is to sue for "negligent entrustment," which is different from regular negligence in that it requires the party being sued to have had prior knowledge that entrusting a potentially dangerous item to a particular person was likely to have resulted in injury or death. In this case, a mentally ill woman had been allowed to purchase a gun at a pawn shop, even though an employee at the shop had been warned that the woman was suicidal and schizophrenic. The shop ultimately sold a gun to the woman anyway, who then used the gun to kill her father.

Parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook shooting are also using the negligent entrustment argument in court, arguing that Remington, the manufacturer of the gun used in the attack, had marketed the military-grade rifle to civilians, creating a foreseeable danger. The case now has a trial date of April 3, 2018.

If someone you love has been killed by gun violence, you may still have ways to sue a gun manufacturer or dealer you believe to have been responsible for the death. Talk to a lawyer to find out suing on the basis of negligent entrustment might be an option for you.

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