Gun Industry Immunity in Alabama

The Alabama Attorney General, by and with the consent of the Governor, has the exclusive authority to bring or settle any lawsuit resulting from or relating to the design, manufacture, marketing, or lawful sale of firearms or ammunition, or both, if the lawsuit is one:

  • In which the state has an exclusive interest or right to recover against any firearm or ammunition manufacturer, trade association, or dealer; or
  • On behalf of any governmental unit created by or pursuant to an act of the Legislature or the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, or any department, agency, or authority thereof.1

A county or municipal corporation may, however, bring an action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer or dealer for breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the political subdivision or local governmental authority.

Alabama also immunizes sport shooting range owners and users from certain kinds of lawsuits. Alabama law states that any person, firm, or entity who operates or uses a sport shooting range shall not be subject to civil liability or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution or lead or lead pollution resulting from the operation or use of the range.2 Furthermore, any person, firm, or entity that operates or uses a sport shooting range is not subject to an action for nuisance and is not subject to injunction to stop the use or operation of the shooting range on the basis of noise or noise pollution or lead or lead pollution.3

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Ala. Code § 11-80-11(c). ⤴︎
  2. Ala. Code § 6-5-341(b)(2). ⤴︎
  3. Ala. Code § 6-5-341(b)(3). For these immunity provisions to apply, the range must be operated between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., and either must have been in existence prior to 1990 or was in compliance with any noise or lead control laws or ordinances that applied to the sport shooting range and its operation on August 1, 2001, or at the time the sport shooting range came into existence, whichever event occurred first. Ala. Code § 6-5-341(b)(2), (3). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Alaska

Alaska law significantly limits civil lawsuits against firearms manufacturers and dealers:

A civil action to recover damages or to seek injunctive relief may not be brought against a person who manufactures or sells firearms or ammunition if the action is based on the lawful sale, manufacture, or design of firearms or ammunition. However, this section does not prohibit a civil action resulting from a negligent design, a manufacturing defect, a breach of contract, or a breach of warranty.1

A person who provides firearm training to a person who receives a permit is not liable for any damage or harm caused by the person receiving the training and permit.2

A person is not liable for any injury or damage resulting from the storage of a firearm in the vehicle of another.3

See the Machine Guns section for the immunity law related to machine guns.

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Alaska Stat. § 09.65.155. ⤴︎
  2. Alaska Stat. § 18.65.745(b). ⤴︎
  3. Alaska Stat. § 18.65.800(c). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Arizona

Arizona prohibits political subdivisions of the State from bringing civil actions for damages against manufacturers or sellers of non-defective firearms or component parts of firearms or ammunition when the civil action results from the criminal or unlawful misuse of such products by a third party. This rule does not prevent actions against persons convicted of knowingly transferring a firearm illegally by a party directly harmed by this conduct.1

Arizona provides an affirmative defense to any civil liability or claim for equitable relief arising from noise or noise pollution from an outdoor shooting range that is in compliance with Arizona law.2

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

 

Notes
  1. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 12-714(A) states that “[a] political subdivision of this state shall not commence a qualified civil liability action in any Arizona court.” “Qualified civil liability action” is defined as “a civil action brought by a political subdivision against a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product or a trade association, for damages resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a qualified product by a third party.” Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 12-714(C)(2). This does not include an action brought against a transferor convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 924(h) or Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-3102(A)(14) by a party directly harmed by the conduct of which the transferee is convicted. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 12-714(C)(2). Under Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 12-714(C)(3), “qualified product” means a non-defective firearm as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3) or non-defective ammunition as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(17), or a component part of a firearm or ammunition, that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce. “Seller” includes a person who, in the course of a business conducted for that purpose, is involved in placing a qualified product in the stream of commerce. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 12-714(C)(4). “Seller” also includes a person who repairs or maintains any aspect of a qualified product. Id. ⤴︎
  2. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 17-605(A). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Arkansas

Arkansas law reserves the authority to bring a lawsuit and the right to recover against a firearm or ammunition manufacturer, trade association, or dealer exclusively to the state. A city, town or county may not seek relief for loss resulting from the lawful design, manufacture, marketing, or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.1

A similar statute prohibits a person or entity from bring an action other than produce liability action against a firearms, nonpowder gun or ammunition manufacturer, importer, or dealer for loss arising from injury, damage, or death caused by a firearm, nonpowder gun, or ammunition. A court must dismiss any action prohibited by this statute and award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to the defendants.2

There are exceptions for actions claiming:

  • Intentional or negligent discharge of a firearm, a nonpowder gun, or ammunition by the manufacturer, importer, or dealer; or
  • An act of the manufacturer, importer, or dealer in violation of a state or federal law or regulation. The plaintiff has the burden to prove, in such a case, that the defendant violated the state or federal law or regulation.3

Arkansas law provides that the proximate cause of injury in a product liability action involving firearms, nonpowder guns or ammunition, may not be the inherent capability of these devices to cause injury, damage, or death.4 In addition, the manufacturer’s, importer’s, or distributor’s placement of a firearm, a nonpowder gun, or ammunition into the stream of commerce may not be deemed to constitute the proximate cause of injury, damage, or death, even if the device discharges unintentionally and the discharge was foreseeable.5

A plaintiff may recover in an action in which he or she proves that the proximate cause of the injury, damage, or death was:

  • A defective firearm, nonpowder gun, or ammunition; or
  • A defectively designed firearm, nonpowder gun, or ammunition that did not function as reasonably expected by the ordinary consumer.6

Giffords Law Center is not aware of any cases interpreting these laws.

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Ark. Code Ann. §§ 14-16-504(b)(2), 14-54-1411(b)(2). There is an exception for breach of contract or warranty lawsuits for firearms or ammunition purchased by the local unit of government. ⤴︎
  2. Ark. Code Ann. § 16-116-202. ⤴︎
  3. Id. ⤴︎
  4. Ark. Code Ann. § 16-116-201. ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎
  6. Ark. Code Ann. § 16-116-203. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in California

California no longer provides legal immunity for the firearms industry, although a federal law enacted in 2005 does. On September 25, 2002, California Governor Gray Davis signed legislation to repeal an immunity law that California adopted in 1983 that had provided special legal protection to the gun industry. That statute had stated that, “[i]n a product liability action, no firearm or ammunition must be deemed defective in design on the basis that the benefits of the product do not outweigh the risk of injury posed by its potential to cause serious injury, damage, or death when discharged.” The California Legislature moved to repeal the immunity law following the California Supreme Court’s decision in Merrill v. Navegar, a case holding that the California immunity law immunized an assault weapons manufacturer from a negligence action brought by the victims of the 101 California Street massacre.1

However, on October 26, 2005, the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”) became law.2 The PLCAA generally immunizes gun manufacturers, distributors, and dealers from liability whenever a person is damaged as a result of the “criminal or unlawful misuse” of a firearm, even if that criminal act or misuse is foreseeable because of industry negligence or recklessness. This sweeping legislation precludes most actions in state as well as federal court and required the immediate dismissal of most pending lawsuits against the gun industry. The PLCAA also nullified California’s repeal of its own immunity law.

The validity and scope of the PLCAA and its exceptions are being tested in courts across the country. For information about these lawsuits and more information about the PLCAA in general, see the federal law section of our policy page on Gun Industry Immunity.

California law also limits the liability of sport shooting ranges for noise or noise pollution resulting from the range.3

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Merrill v. Navegar, 28 P.3d 116 (Cal. 2001). ⤴︎
  2. 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901 – 7903. ⤴︎
  3. Cal. Civil Code § 3482.1(b) provides:
    (1) Except as provided in [§ 3482.1(f)], a person who operates or uses a sport shooting range in this state must not be subject to civil liability or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution resulting from the operation or use of the range if the range is in compliance with any noise control laws or ordinances that applied to the range and its operation at the time construction or operation of the range was approved by a local public entity having jurisdiction in the matter, or if there were no such laws or ordinances that applied to the range and its operation at that time.
    (2) Except as provided in [§ 3482.1(f)], a person who operates or uses a sport shooting range or law enforcement training range is not subject to an action for nuisance, and a court must not enjoin the use or operation of a range on the basis of noise or noise pollution if the range is in compliance with any noise control laws or ordinances that applied to the range and its operation at the time construction or operation of the range was approved by a local public entity having jurisdiction in the matter, or if there were no such laws or ordinances that applied to the range and its operation at that time.
    Cal. Civ. Code § 3482.1(f) provides that local jurisdictions may require that noise levels at the nearest residential property line to a range not exceed the level of normal city street noise, which must not be more than 60 decibels for nighttime shooting. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Colorado

Colorado law provides that:

A person or other public or private entity may not bring an action in tort, other than a product liability action, against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, importer, or dealer for any remedy arising from physical or emotional injury, physical damage, or death caused by the discharge of a firearm or ammunition.1

Product liability actions for injury, damage, or death caused by the discharge of a firearm or ammunition may be based only upon “an actual defect in the design or manufacture of such firearm or ammunition and not upon the inherent potential of a firearm or ammunition to cause injury, damage, or death when discharged.”2

Colorado prohibits a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, importer, or dealer from being held liable as a third party “for the actions of another person.” Plaintiffs are liable for attorney fees in suits dismissed under the law.3

Colorado permits actions against a firearm or ammunition manufacturer, importer, or dealer for any damages proximately caused by an act of the manufacturer, importer, or dealer in violation of a state or federal statute or regulation.”4 In any such action, the plaintiff has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant violated the state or federal statute or regulation.5

Colorado also provides rules regarding proximate cause relevant to product liability actions involving firearms or ammunition:

(1) In a product liability action, the actual discharge of a firearm or ammunition shall be the proximate cause of injury, damage, or death resulting from the use of such product and not the inherent capability of the product to cause injury, damage, or death.

(2) The manufacturer’s, importer’s, or distributor’s placement of a firearm or ammunition in the stream of commerce, even if such placement is found to be foreseeable, shall not be conduct deemed sufficient to constitute the proximate cause of injury, damage, or death resulting from a third party’s use of the product.

(3) In a product liability action concerning the accidental discharge of a firearm, the manufacturer’s, importer’s, or distributor’s placement of the product in the stream of commerce shall not be conduct deemed sufficient to constitute proximate cause, even if accidental discharge is found to be foreseeable.

(4) In addition to any limitation of an action set forth in section 13-80-119, in a product liability action brought by the criminal, it shall be an absolute defense that the injury, damage, or death immediately resulted from the use of the firearm or ammunition during the commission of the criminal act which is a felony or a class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor.6

Nothing contained in the product liability provisions for guns or ammunition will bar recovery where a plaintiff proves that the proximate cause of the injury, damage or death was a firearm or ammunition which contained a defect in manufacture causing it to be at variance from its design, or which was designed so that it did not function in the manner reasonably expected by an ordinary consumer of such a product.7

Finally, Colorado law limits lawsuits against shooting ranges based on noise emanating from the range.8

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-504.5(1). ⤴︎
  2. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-501. ⤴︎
  3. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-504.5(2), (3). ⤴︎
  4. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-504.5(4). ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎
  6. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-504. ⤴︎
  7. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-505. ⤴︎
  8. See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 25-12-109(3). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Connecticut

Connecticut exempts from criminal prosecution, and makes immune from civil liability, any owner, operator or user of a firing or shooting range operating on October 1, 1998, with respect to noise or noise pollution violations resulting from shooting activity on such range, provided the range was, at the time of its construction or operational approval by the municipality in which it is located, in compliance with Connecticut General Statutes Chapter 442 and related regulations.1 State law does not, however, limit the ability of a municipality to regulate an increase in noise attributable to a physical expansion of an existing firing or shooting range.2

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22a-74a(a). ⤴︎
  2. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22a-74a(c). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Delaware

Compliance with the background check provisions of Delaware Code Annotated Title 11, § 1448A is a complete defense to any claim or cause of action under Delaware law for liability for damages arising from the importation or manufacture, or subsequent sale or transfer of a firearm shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce to a person convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.1

Delaware law also provides that:

No shooting range or hunting operation…shall be or become a nuisance, private or public, by any changed conditions in or about the locality thereof after the same has been in operation for more than 1 year if the operation or the change did not constitute a nuisance from the date the shooting range or hunting operation began or the date the change in the operation began. Likewise, a shooting range or hunting operation which fully complied with local zoning requirements when operations first began shall not be deemed to be non-compliant based upon zoning requirements which have subsequently changed since the initial commencement of operations.2

This section does not apply, however, when:

  • A nuisance results from the negligent or improper operation of the shooting range or hunting operation;
  • There has been a significant and fundamental change in the hunting operation or operation of the shooting range;
  • The shooting range or hunting operations do not conform to federal, state or local health or zoning requirements; or
  • The shooting range or hunting operations are conducted in a negligent or unlawful manner.3

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448A(c). ⤴︎
  2. Del. Code Ann. tit. 10, § 8142(c). ⤴︎
  3. Del. Code Ann. tit. 10, § 8142(b), (d). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Florida

Firearms Industry

Florida law prohibits any legal action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, distributor or dealer, or firearms trade association, on behalf of Florida or its agencies.1

A county, municipality, special district, or other political subdivision or agency of the state may not sue for or recover from a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, distributor or dealer, or firearms trade association, damages, abatement, or injunctive relief in any case that arises out of or results from the lawful design, marketing, distribution, or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.2

However, actions against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, distributor, or dealer are permitted for:

  • Breach of contract or warranty in connection with a firearm or ammunition purchased by a county, municipality, special district, or other political subdivision or agency of the state; or
  • Injuries resulting from the malfunction of a firearm or ammunition due to a defect in design or manufacture.3

For any civil actions brought in violation of these provisions, a defendant to such action may recover all resulting expenses, including attorney’s fees, costs and compensation for loss of income, from the governmental entity bringing the action.4

Shooting Ranges

Florida law also provides that any sport shooting or training range shall be immune from lawsuits brought by political subdivisions for any claims associated with the use, release, placement, deposition, or accumulation of any projectile on or under that range, or any other property over which the range has a legal right of use, if the range owner or operator has made a good faith effort to comply with the appropriate environmental management practices.5 Nothing in this law is intended to impair or diminish the private property rights of owners of property adjoining a sport shooting or training range.6

The Attorney General of Florida has interpreted these provisions to mean that a county may enforce existing zoning and land use regulations against a proposed sports shooting range; however, no newly created or amended zoning or land use regulations may be enforced against existing ranges.7

A separate Florida law immunizes any person who operates or uses a sport shooting range from civil liability or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution resulting from operation or use of the range.8

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Fla. Stat. § 790.331(2). ⤴︎
  2. Fla. Stat. § 790.331(3). ⤴︎
  3. Fla. Stat. § 790.331(2). ⤴︎
  4. Fla. Stat. § 790.331(6). ⤴︎
  5. Fla. Stat. § 790.333(5)(a); see also Fla. Stat. § 790.333(4). ⤴︎
  6. Fla. Stat. § 790.333(5)(b). ⤴︎
  7. Op. Att’y Gen. Fla. 2008-34, 2008 Fla. AG LEXIS 61. ⤴︎
  8. Fla. Stat. § 823.16. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Georgia

Georgia law reserves to the state the authority to bring suit and recover against any firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association, or dealer by or on behalf of any governmental unit, or department or agency thereof, for damages, abatement, or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to the lawful design, manufacture, marketing, or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.1 However, this rule does not prohibit a political subdivision or local government authority from bringing an action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer or dealer for breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the political subdivision or local government authority.2

The Georgia General Assembly has declared that the lawful design, marketing, manufacture, or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public is not an unreasonably dangerous activity and does not constitute a nuisance per se.3

In Sturm, Ruger & Company v. City of Atlanta, the Court of Appeals of Georgia reversed the denial of a motion to dismiss a city’s negligence claim against gun manufacturers, dealers, and trade associations in connection with the design, marketing and distribution of firearms.4 Among other things, the court held that the lawsuit was precluded by the laws described above.5 The court held that these statutes could be applied retroactively and that such retroactive application did not offend the state constitutional prohibitions on retroactive laws, special laws, or the state constitutional separation of powers doctrine.6 See Local Authority to Regulate Firearms in Georgia for further details about this lawsuit.

Finally, no sport shooting range or unit of government or person owning, operating, or using a sport shooting range for the sport shooting of firearms is subject to any action for civil or criminal liability, damages, abatement, or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to noise generated by the operation of the range if the range remains in compliance with noise control or nuisance abatement rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances applicable to the range on the date on which it commenced operation.7

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-173(b)(2). ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎
  3. Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-173(a)(2). ⤴︎
  4. 560 S.E.2d 525 (Ga. Ct. App. 2002). ⤴︎
  5. Sturm, Ruger, 560 S.E.2d at 530-32. ⤴︎
  6. Id. at 530-32. ⤴︎
  7. Ga. Code Ann. § 41-1-9(c). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Idaho

Firearms Industry

A governmental unit (defined by state law as a political subdivision of the state, including a municipality or county, or any other governmental agency whose authority is derived from the laws or constitution of Idaho) may not bring suit against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association or seller for recovery of damages resulting from, or injunctive relief or abatement of a nuisance relating to, the lawful design, manufacture, marketing or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.1

However, a governmental unit on behalf of the state or any other governmental unit may bring a suit against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association or seller if the suit is approved in advance by the legislature by adoption of a concurrent resolution or by enactment of a statute.2 In addition, the state attorney general may bring a suit against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association or seller on behalf of the state or any other governmental unit.3

A governmental unit may bring an action against a firearms manufacturer, trade association or seller for recovery of damages for:

  • Breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by a governmental unit;
  • Damage or harm to property owned or leased by the governmental unit caused by a defective firearm or ammunition; or
  • Injunctive relief to enforce a valid ordinance, statute or rule.4

State law provides that in a products liability action, no firearm or ammunition shall be deemed defective in design on the basis that the benefits of the product do not outweigh the risk of injury posed by its potential to cause serious injury, damage, or death when discharged.5

The Idaho Legislature has also declared that, in product liability actions, the potential of a firearm or ammunition to cause serious injury, damage, or death when discharged does not make the product defective in design.6 Furthermore, the legislature deems that injuries or damages resulting from the discharge of a firearm or ammunition are not proximately caused by the potential of a firearm or ammunition to cause serious injury, damage, or death, but are proximately caused by the actual discharge of the product.7

Nevertheless, Idaho law does not foreclose a products liability cause of action based upon the improper selection of design alternatives.8

Shooting Ranges

A person who operates or uses a sport shooting range

“shall not be subject to civil liability or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution resulting from the operation or use of the range if the range was established, constructed or operated prior to the implementation of any noise control laws, ordinances, rules or regulations, or if the range is in compliance with any noise control laws, ordinances, rules or regulations that applied to the range and its operation at the time of establishment, construction or initial operation of the range.”9

Furthermore, “[r]ules or regulations adopted by a state or local department or agency for limiting levels of noise in terms of decibel level which may occur in the outdoor atmosphere shall not apply to a sport shooting range.10 Such a municipal noise control ordinance “may not require or be applied so as to require a sport shooting range to limit or eliminate shooting activities that have occurred on a regular basis at the range prior to the enactment of the ordinance.”11 Except in specified circumstances, “a person may not maintain a nuisance action for noise against a shooting range located in the vicinity of that person’s property” if the shooting range was established at the point when the property was acquired.12

A person may not maintain a nuisance action for noise against one of these ranges if the range is in compliance with sections 67-9101 through 67-9105.13 A new use—including a new residential use—of property in the vicinity of one of these ranges does not give rise to a right to maintain a nuisance action for noise against the range.14

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Idaho Code Ann. §§ 5-247(2), 5-247(1). ⤴︎
  2. Idaho Code Ann. § 5-247(3). ⤴︎
  3. Idaho Code Ann. § 5-247(5). ⤴︎
  4. Idaho Code Ann. § 5-247(4). ⤴︎
  5. Idaho Code Ann. § 6-1410(1). ⤴︎
  6. Idaho Code Ann. § 6-1410(2)(a). ⤴︎
  7. Idaho Code Ann. § 6-1410(2)(b). ⤴︎
  8. Idaho Code Ann. § 6-1410(3). ⤴︎
  9. Idaho Code Ann. § 55-2601(1). ⤴︎
  10. Idaho Code Ann. § 55-2601(3). ⤴︎
  11. Idaho Code Ann. § 55-2601(3). ⤴︎
  12. Idaho Code Ann. § 55-2602. ⤴︎
  13. Idaho Code Ann. § 67-9103. ⤴︎
  14. Idaho Code Ann. § 67-9104. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Illinois

In Illinois, owners or operators of firearm ranges in existence on January 1, 1994 are not subject to any action for public or private nuisance or trespass, and no court shall enjoin the use or operation of a firearm range on the basis of noise or sound emissions resulting from the normal use of the firearm range.1 Owners or operators of firearm ranges placed in operation after January 1, 1994 are not subject to any action for public or private nuisance or trespass arising out of or as a consequence of noise or sound emissions resulting from the normal use of the firearm range, if the firearm range conforms to any one of the following requirements:

  • All areas from which a firearm may be properly discharged are at least 1,000 yards from any occupied permanent dwelling on adjacent property;
  • All areas from which a firearm may be properly discharged are enclosed by a permanent building or structure that absorbs or contains sound energy escaping from the muzzle of firearms in use;
  • If the firearm range is situated on land otherwise subject to land use zoning, the firearm range is in compliance with the requirements of the zoning authority;
  • The firearm range is operated by a governmental entity or is licensed by the Department of Natural Resources; or
  • The firearm range met the 1,000-yard restriction described in the first bullet point, above, at the time the range began its operation and subsequently an occupied permanent dwelling on adjacent property was built within 1,000 yards from an area of the range from which a firearm may be properly discharged.2

In 2004, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled against the plaintiffs in two cases against the firearms industry, City of Chicago v. Beretta Corp., 821 N.E.2d 1099 (Ill. 2004), brought by the City of Chicago and Cook County, and Young v. Bryco Arms, 821 N.E.2d 1078 (Ill. 2004), brought by private plaintiffs. In both cases the Illinois Supreme Court reversed lower court decisions and held that the plaintiffs could not pursue public nuisance claims under state law.

Plaintiffs made similar allegations in both cases: plaintiffs asserted public nuisance claims against various gun manufacturers, distributors and dealers, claiming that their marketing and distribution practices intentionally and unreasonably interfered with the public’s right to use Chicago’s streets and other public areas without fear for their lives or the risk of injury. Plaintiffs claimed that the defendants were responsible for intentionally creating and maintaining a public nuisance – an underground market of firearms – in which defendants marketed and sold handguns made to appeal to juveniles and criminals. Further, plaintiffs claimed these manufacturers and distributors intentionally created and fostered an environment that encouraged purchasers to illegally transport handguns into Chicago and flood that market with such weapons. At the time of the lawsuits, Chicago banned the possession of handguns. Chicago bans the sale of handguns.

The Illinois Supreme Court rejected plaintiffs’ claims in their entirety, holding that plaintiffs failed to state a claim for public nuisance against the defendants. The court concluded that the manufacturer and distributor defendants owed no duty to the City of Chicago or its residents to prevent the defendants’ firearms from ending up in the hands of criminals. With respect to the dealer defendants, the court found that these defendants could not be legally responsible for the alleged nuisance which resulted from the intervening criminal acts of third parties (i.e., the shooters) over whom the defendants had no control. The court also cited “strong public policy reasons” in favor of deferring the matter of regulating the manufacture, distribution and sale of firearms to the legislature. In a strongly-worded concurrence in the Young case, five of seven justices described the plaintiffs’ factual allegations as “disturbing,” and urged the Illinois legislature to address the issue. The plaintiffs’ petition for rehearing in City of Chicago v. Beretta Corp. was denied. City of Chicago v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp., 2005 Ill. LEXIS 12 (Ill. Jan. 24, 2005).

To read the Illinois Supreme Court’s opinion in Young v. Bryco Arms, click here; for the court’s opinion in City of Chicago v. Beretta U.S.A. Corp., click here.

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. 740 Ill. Comp. Stat. 130/5(b). ⤴︎
  2. 740 Ill. Comp. Stat. 130/5(c). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Indiana

Indiana law prohibits any person from bringing or maintaining an action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association, or seller for:

  • Recovery of damages resulting from, or injunctive relief or abatement of a nuisance relating to, the lawful design, manufacture, marketing or sale of a firearm or ammunition; or
  • Recovery of damages resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a firearm or ammunition by a third party.1

Furthermore, if a court finds that a party has brought an action under a theory of recovery described above, the finding constitutes conclusive evidence that the action is groundless.2 Upon this finding, a court shall dismiss the claims or action and award to the defendant any reasonable attorney’s fee and costs incurred in defending the claims or action.3

However, an action may be brought or maintained against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association, or seller for recovery of damages for:

  • Breach of contract or warranty concerning firearms or ammunition purchased by a person;
  • Damage or harm to a person or to property owned or leased by a person caused by a defective firearm or ammunition; or
  • Injunctive relief to enforce a valid statute, rule, or ordinance. However, a person may not bring an action seeking injunctive relief if that action is barred under Indiana Code Ann. § 34-12-3-3.4

In addition, a person is immune from civil liability based on an act or omission related to the use of a firearm or ammunition by another person if the other person directly or indirectly obtained the firearm or ammunition through the commission of a burglary, robbery, theft, receiving stolen property, or criminal conversion.5

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

 

Notes
  1. Ind. Code Ann. § 34-12-3-3. ⤴︎
  2. Ind. Code Ann. § 34-12-3-4(a). ⤴︎
  3. However, if (1) a party has brought an action under a theory of recovery described above; (2) the action commenced on or before August 27, 1999; and (3) the action is dismissed, no award for attorney’s fees or costs incurred shall issue to the plaintiff or the defendant. Ind. Code Ann. § 34-12-3-4(b). ⤴︎
  4. Ind. Code Ann. § 34-12-3-5. ⤴︎
  5. Ind. Code Ann. § 34-30-20-1. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Kansas

Kansas has preempted local governments from suing firearm manufacturers and dealers for causes of action relating to the lawful design, manufacture, marketing or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public. Local governments are authorized, however, to sue for breach of contract or warranty, or for damages caused to employees of political subdivisions by defects in firearms or ammunition purchased or used by the political subdivision.1

Kansas law also immunizes owners and users of a sport shooting range from civil liability and criminal prosecution, so long as it conforms to generally accepted operation practices, in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution, if the range is in compliance with noise control laws or ordinances or resolutions that applied to the range at the time of construction. If the range is in compliance with such laws, the shooting range owner or user is also not subject to an action for nuisance, and cannot be enjoined from the use or operation of a range on the basis of noise or noise pollution.2

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 60-4501. ⤴︎
  2. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 58-3222. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Kentucky

Kentucky law prevents any person or entity from being held liable for damages resulting from the criminal use of a firearm by a third person, unless the person or entity conspired with the third person to commit, or willfully aided, abetted, or caused the commission of, the criminal act in which the firearm was used.1 This immunity law is similar to the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”), which became law on October 26, 2005.2 The Kentucky law differs from the PLCAA, however, as it does not alter the doctrine of negligence or strict liability relating to abnormally dangerous products or activities and defective products.3

Kentucky law also prevents local governments from bringing most lawsuits against the firearms or ammunition industry.4 This law does not, however, prohibit a local governmental unit from bringing an action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer or dealer for breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by that local unit of government.5

Kentucky limits the liability of shooting ranges for noise,6 and prevents a shooting range that has been in operation for at least one year from being deemed a nuisance solely as a result of changed conditions in or around the locality of the range.7

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 411.155(1). ⤴︎
  2. 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901 – 7903. The validity and scope of the PLCAA and its exceptions are being tested in courts across the country. For information about these lawsuits and more information about the PLCAA in general, see our Federal Law on Immunity Statutes page. ⤴︎
  3. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 411.155(2). ⤴︎
  4. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 65.045(1). ⤴︎
  5. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 65.045(2). ⤴︎
  6. No shooting range, unit of government, or owner, operator or user of a shooting range may be subject to any action for civil or criminal liability, damages, abatement, or injunctive relief arising from the level of noise produced by the shooting range if the range complies with noise control or nuisance abatement administrative regulations, statutes, or ordinances applicable when the range commenced operation. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 237.210(2). Lastly, no administrative regulations, statutes, or ordinances relating to noise control, pollution, or abatement adopted by a unit of government may be applied to a shooting range retroactively if the conduct at the shooting range was lawful before the enactment of the regulation, statute, or ordinance. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 237.210(3). ⤴︎
  7. Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 237.210(1). Expansion of the range facilities or activities “shall not establish a new date of commencement of operations for purposes of this section unless the change triples the amount of the noise produced by the range.” Id. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Louisiana

Louisiana has two statutes providing immunity to the firearms industry. The first statute precludes any political subdivision or local or other governmental authority of the state from bringing suit to recover against any firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association, or dealer for damages for injury, death, or loss or to seek other injunctive relief resulting from or relating to the lawful design, manufacture, marketing, or sale of firearms or ammunition. The authority to bring such actions “as may be authorized by law” is reserved exclusively to the state. However, the statute specifically states that it does not prohibit a political subdivision or local or other governing authority of the state from bringing an action for breach of contract as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the political subdivision or local authority of the state.1

The second statute declares that the Louisiana Products Liability Act was not designed to impose liability on a manufacturer or seller for the improper use of a properly designed and manufactured product, and that the manufacture and sale of firearms and ammunition by duly licensed manufacturers and dealers is a lawful activity that is not unreasonably dangerous.2 It also provides that no firearm manufacturer or seller shall be liable for:

  • Any injury, damage, or death resulting from a shooting injury by any other person unless the claimant proves that such injury, damage, or death was proximately caused by the unreasonably dangerous construction or composition of the product;
  • The actions of any person who uses a firearm in a manner which is unlawful, negligent, or otherwise inconsistent with the purposes for which it was intended, so long as the firearm was transferred in compliance with federal and state law; or
  • Failing to warn users of the risk that:

A firearm has the potential to cause serious bodily injury, property damage, or death when discharged legally or illegally;

An unauthorized person could gain access to the firearm;

A cartridge may be in the chamber of the firearm; or

The firearm is capable of being fired even with the ammunition magazine removed.3

In addition, the failure of a manufacturer or seller to ensure that a firearm has a device which would: 1) make the firearm useable only by the lawful owner or authorized user of the firearm; 2) indicate to users that a cartridge is in the chamber of the firearm; or 3) prevent the firearm from firing if the ammunition magazine is removed, does not make the firearm unreasonably dangerous, unless such device is required by federal or state statute or regulation.4

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

 

Notes
  1. La. Rev. Stat. § 40:1799. ⤴︎
  2. La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2800.60. ⤴︎
  3. La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2800.60. ⤴︎
  4. La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2800.60(D). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Maine

Maine prohibits municipalities from commencing a civil action against “any firearm or ammunition manufacturer for damages, abatement or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to the lawful design, manufacture, marketing or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.”1 This provision does not prohibit a municipality from bringing an action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer or dealer for breach of contract or warranty for firearms or ammunition purchased by a municipality.2

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Me. Stat., 30-A § 2005. ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Maryland

Maryland prohibits the imposition of strict liability for injuries to another that result from the criminal use of a firearm by a third person.1 This restriction does not apply if the person conspired with the third person to commit the criminal act in which the firearm was used or willfully aided, abetted, or caused the commission of the criminal act in which the firearm was used.  The legislature enacted this section to supersede Kelley v. R.G. Industries, Inc.,2 which had imposed strict liability on a manufacturer of “Saturday Night Specials” (otherwise known as Junk Guns) for their criminal misuse.

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-402(b)(2). ⤴︎
  2. 497 A.2d 1143 (Md. 1985). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Michigan

Under Michigan law, federally licensed firearms dealers are not liable for damages arising from the use or misuse of a firearm if the sale complies with state and federal law.1

Michigan also prohibits political subdivisions from bringing civil actions against a person who “produces” (i.e., who manufactures, constructs, designs, formulates, develops standards for, prepares, processes, assembles, inspects, tests, lists, certifies, gives a warning or instruction regarding, markets, sells, advertises, packages, labels, distributes, or transfers)2 a firearm or ammunition, and reserves the authority to do so exclusively to the state.3

Political subdivisions are not prohibited from bringing the following actions:

  • A contract issue or action based on a provision of the Uniform Commercial Code, in which the political subdivision is the purchaser and owner of the firearm or ammunition;
  • Expressed or implied warranty actions arising from the purchase of a firearm or ammunition by the political subdivision or the use of a firearm or ammunition by an employee or agent of the political subdivision; or
  • Product liability, personal injury, or wrongful death actions when an employee or agent or property of the political subdivision has been injured or damaged as a result of a defect in the design or manufacture of the firearm or ammunition purchased and owned by the political subdivision.4

However, an action by a political subdivision may not be based on the inherent potential of a firearm or ammunition to cause injury, damage, or death, or failure to warn of such potential.5 Furthermore, an action may not be based on a failure to include a device or mechanism to prevent a firearm or ammunition from being discharged by an unauthorized person unless specifically provided for by contract.6

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 28.435(7). ⤴︎
  2. Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 28.435(15)(e). ⤴︎
  3. Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 28.435(9). ⤴︎
  4. Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 28.435(10). ⤴︎
  5. Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 28.435(11). ⤴︎
  6. Id. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Minnesota

Minnesota has no law providing immunity to the gun industry generally.  However, a person who owns, operates, or uses a shooting range that is in compliance with shooting range performance standards is not subject to any nuisance action for damages or equitable relief based on noise or other matters regulated by the shooting range performance standards.1

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Minn. Stat. § 87A.06. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Mississippi

Mississippi law provides that:

The authority to bring an action against any firearms or ammunition manufacturer, distributor or dealer duly licensed under federal law on behalf of any governmental entity created by or pursuant to an act of the Mississippi Legislature or the Mississippi Constitution of 1890, or any department, agency or authority thereof, for damages, abatement, injunctive relief or any other relief or remedy resulting from or relating to the lawful design, manufacture, distribution or sale of firearms, firearm components, silencers, ammunition or ammunition components to the public, shall be exclusively reserved to the state. This section shall not prohibit a political subdivision from bringing an action against a firearm or ammunition manufacturer, distributor or dealer for breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the political subdivision, or for injuries resulting from a firearm malfunction due to defects in materials or workmanship.1

As of the date this page was last updated, Giffords Law Center is not aware of any case law interpreting this provision.

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Miss. Code Ann. § 11-1-67(1). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Missouri

Missouri law provides:

No county, city, town, village or any other political subdivision nor the state shall bring suit or have any right to recover against any firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association or dealer for damages, abatement or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to the lawful design, manufacture, marketing, distribution, or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public. This subsection shall apply to any suit pending as of October 12, 2003, as well as any suit which may be brought in the future. Provided, however, that nothing in this section shall restrict the rights of individual citizens to recover for injury or death caused by the negligent or defective design or manufacture of firearms or ammunition.1

These provisions do not “prevent the state, a county, city, town, village or any other political subdivision from bringing an action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer or dealer for breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the state or such political subdivision.”2

The Missouri Legislature has determined that “[t]he lawful design, marketing, manufacture, distribution, or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public is not an abnormally dangerous activity and does not constitute a public or private nuisance.”3

In City of St. Louis v. Cernicek, 145 S.W.3d 37 (2004), the Missouri Court of Appeals dismissed a suit by St. Louis against firearms manufacturers and sellers on the ground that Missouri Revised Statutes §§ 21.750.4 and 21.750.5 barred the suit. The court held that Missouri Revised Statutes §§ 21.750.4 and 21.750.5 bar tort claims by a city related to the lawful design, manufacture, marketing, distribution, or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.4 The court refused to address the constitutionality of the statute.5

Missouri law provides that “[a]ny county, city, town, village or other political subdivision found to have filed a frivolous action against any firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association or dealer, shall be liable for all costs, attorneys’ fees and other sanctions as the court finds necessary to prevent such future actions by the plaintiff or entities similarly situated.”6

Finally, all owners and authorized users of firearm ranges are immune from criminal or civil liability arising out of or as a consequence of noise or sound emission from the range.7 All owners and users of ranges are not subject to civil actions in tort or any action for public or private nuisance or trespass, and “no court in this state shall enjoin the use or operation of such firearm ranges” on the basis of noise or sound emission resulting from the use of any such range.8 Moreover, all owners and authorized users of hunting preserves or areas designated as hunting preserves after August 28, 2008, are immune from criminal and civil liability arising out of or as a consequence of noise or sound emission from the normal use of any such preserve.9 Owners or authorized users of hunting preserves are not subject to any action for public or private nuisance or trespass, and no court may enjoin the use or operation of such preserves on the basis of noise or sound emission resulting from the normal use of any such preserve.10

These immunity provisions shall not be construed, however, to limit civil liability for compensatory damages arising from physical injury to another human, physical injury to tangible personal property, or physical injury to fixtures or structures on real property.11

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 21.750.5. ⤴︎
  2. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 21.750.6. ⤴︎
  3. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 21.750.4. ⤴︎
  4. Cernicek, 145 S.W.3d at 43. ⤴︎
  5. Id. at 42. ⤴︎
  6. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 67.138. ⤴︎
  7. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.294.2. ⤴︎
  8. Id. ⤴︎
  9. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.294.3. ⤴︎
  10. Id. ⤴︎
  11. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.294.4. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Montana

Montana reserves to the state the right to sue a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association or dealer for abatement, injunctive relief, or tort damages relating to the design, manufacture, marketing, or sale of firearms or ammunition sold to the public.1 The state may bring such lawsuits on its own behalf or on behalf of a local governmental unit.2

In a products liability action in Montana, firearms or ammunition may not be considered defective in design on the ground that their benefits do not outweigh the risk of the injury they pose.3 Montana law further provides that in a products liability action, the potential of firearms and ammunition to cause serious injury, damage or death does not make them defective in design, and cannot proximately cause injuries or damage resulting from the discharge of a firearm or ammunition.4 According to the law governing products liability, such injuries or damages are proximately caused by the actual discharge of the product.5 However, the law does not apply to a products liability cause of action based upon the improper selection of design alternatives.6

For provisions limiting the powers of local governments to regulate and prosecute shooting ranges, see the Montana State Preemption/Local Authority to Regulate Firearms summary.

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Mont. Code Ann. § 7-1-115. ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎
  3. Mont. Code Ann. § 27-1-720(1). ⤴︎
  4. Mont. Code Ann. § 27-1-720(2). ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎
  6. Mont. Code Ann. § 27-1-720(3). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Nebraska

Nebraska law provides:

Compliance with sections 69-2410 to 69-2423 [requiring a licensed dealer to either perform a background check or inspect the transferee’s handgun certificate before the transfer of a handgun] shall be a defense by…the licensee transferring a handgun in any cause of action under the laws of this state for liability for damages arising from the importation or manufacture, or the subsequent sale or transfer, of any handgun which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce to any person who has been convicted in any court of any crime punishable be a term of more than one year.1

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 69-2417. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Nevada

Nevada law provides that:

[T]he State of Nevada is the only governmental entity in this state that may commence a lawsuit against a manufacturer or distributor of a firearm or ammunition or a trade association related to firearms or ammunition for damages, abatement or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to the lawful design or manufacture of a firearm or ammunition or the marketing or sale of a firearm or ammunition to the public.1

Local governments may sue manufacturers or distributors of a firearm or ammunition for breach of contract or warranty concerning a firearm or ammunition purchased by the entity.2

Nevada law also provides that “[n]o person has a cause of action against the manufacturer or distributor of any firearm or ammunition merely because the firearm or ammunition was capable of causing serious injury, damage or death, was discharged and proximately caused serious injury, damage or death.”3

This limitation does not affect a cause of action based upon a defect in design or production.4 The capability of a firearm or ammunition to cause serious injury, damage or death when discharged does not make the product defective in design.5

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 12.107(1). ⤴︎
  2. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 12.107(2). ⤴︎
  3. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 41.131(1). ⤴︎
  4. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 41.131(2). ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in New Mexico

The use or operation of a sport shooting range may not be enjoined as a nuisance on the basis of noise or noise pollution by any person who acquires an interest in real property adversely affected by the normal operation and use of a range that began operating prior to the time the person acquired the interest in real property.1

Moreover, the use or operation of a sport shooting range shall not be enjoined as a nuisance on the basis of noise or noise pollution:

  • If the range is in compliance with noise control statutes, rules or ordinances that apply to the range and its operation at the time that the initial operation of the range commenced;
  • Due to changes made to noise control statutes, rules or ordinances that apply to the range and its operation, if the changes take effect after the initial operation of the range commenced; or
  • If noise control statutes, rules or ordinances were not in effect at the time that the original operation of the range commenced.2

The provisions of New Mexico’s Sport Shooting Range Act do not apply:

  • To recovery for an act or omission relating to recklessness, negligence, wanton misconduct or willful misconduct in the operation or use of a sport shooting range;
  • To a nuisance action on the basis of trespass involving the operation or use of a sport shooting range;
  • To the operation or use of a sport shooting range that substantially and adversely affects public health or public safety; or
  • If there has been a substantial change in the primary use of a sport shooting range.3

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 17-8-4(B). ⤴︎
  2. N.M. Stat. Ann. §17-8-4(A). ⤴︎
  3. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 17-8-6. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in North Carolina

North Carolina law provides that the lawful design, marketing, manufacture, distribution, sale, or transfer of firearms or ammunition to the public is not an unreasonably dangerous activity and does not constitute a nuisance per se.1 North Carolina law further provides that the state is the only government entity that may bring an action against a firearms or ammunition marketer, manufacturer, distributor, dealer, seller or trade association relating to the lawful design, marketing, manufacture, distribution, sale, or transfer of firearms or ammunition to the public.2 North Carolina law also provides that, in such a case, “it is the unlawful use of firearms and ammunition, rather than their lawful design, marketing, manufacture, distribution, sale, or transfer that is the proximate cause of injuries arising from their unlawful use.”3 North Carolina does not prohibit a local government from bringing an action against a firearms or ammunition marketer, manufacturer, distributor, dealer, seller or trade association for breach of contract or warranty for defective materials or workmanship as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the local government.4

North Carolina law provides that, in a products liability action involving firearms or ammunition, the question of whether a firearm or ammunition shell is defective in design must not be based on a comparison or weighing of the benefits of the product against its risk of causing damage, injury or death.5

North Carolina further provides that in a products liability action brought against a firearm or ammunition manufacturer, importer, distributor, or retailer that alleges a design defect, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove:

  • That the actual design of the firearm or ammunition was defective, causing it not to function in a manner reasonably expected by an ordinary consumer of firearms or ammunition; and
  • That any defective design was the proximate cause of the injury, damage, or death.6

North Carolina provides that the operator or owner of a sport shooting range is not subject to civil liability or criminal prosecution or an action for nuisance, and a state court may not enjoin the use or operation of the range on the basis of noise or noise pollution resulting from the operation or use of the range if the range was in existence on September 1, 1994 and the range was in compliance with any noise control laws that applied at the time the range began operation.7 Rules adopted by any state department or agency for limiting levels of noise in terms of decibel level that may occur in the outdoor atmosphere do not apply to a sport shooting range.8

A person who acquires title to real property adversely affected by the use of a sport shooting range initially operated prior to the time the person acquired title must not maintain a nuisance action on the basis of noise or noise pollution against the owner of the range to restrain, enjoin, or impede its use.9 However, the person may maintain a nuisance action within one year of the date of a substantial change in use.10 This section does not prohibit actions for negligence or recklessness in the operation of the range or by a person using the range.11

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

 

Notes
  1. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-409.40. ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎
  3. Id. ⤴︎
  4. Id. ⤴︎
  5. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 99B-11(a). ⤴︎
  6. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 99B-11(b). ⤴︎
  7. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-409.46(a), (b). ⤴︎
  8. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-409.46(c). ⤴︎
  9. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-409.46(d). ⤴︎
  10. Id. ⤴︎
  11. Id. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in North Dakota

North Dakota provides that a firearm manufacturer, distributor, or seller who lawfully manufactures, distributes, or sells a firearm is not liable to any person or to the estate, a successor, or survivor of any person for any injury suffered, including wrongful death and property damage, because of the use of a firearm by another.1

In addition, an association of federally licensed firearm manufacturers, importers, or dealers “is not liable to any person or to the estate, a successor, or survivor of any person for any injury suffered, including wrongful death and property damage, because of the use of a firearm sold or manufactured by any licensee who is a member of the association.”2

However, North Dakota law does not immunize firearms manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and importers from claims for relief for deceit, breach of contract, express or implied warranty, or for injury resulting from failure of a firearm to operate in a normal or usual manner due to defects or negligence in design or manufacture.3 The potential of a firearm to cause serious injury, damage, or death as a result of normal function does not constitute a defective condition of the product.4 A firearm also may not be deemed defective on the basis of its potential to cause serious injury, damage, or death when discharged.5

In addition, North Dakota law does not immunize firearms manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and importers from claims for relief arising from the unlawful sale or transfer of a firearm or an instance when the transferor knew or should have known that the recipient would engage in the unlawful sale or transfer of the firearm or would use or purposely allow the use of the firearm in an unlawful, negligent, or improper fashion.6

North Dakota law provides, in part:

If a sport shooting range has been in operation for one year since the date on which it began operation as a sport shooting range, it does not become a public or private nuisance as a result of changed conditions in or around the locality of the sport shooting range.

If a sport shooting range remains in compliance with noise control or nuisance abatement rules or ordinances in effect on the date on which it commenced operation, it is not subject to a civil or criminal action resulting from or relating to noise generated by the operation of the sport shooting range.

A person who acquires title to real property that is adversely affected by the operation of a permanently located and improved sport shooting range constructed and initially operated before that person acquired title to the property adversely affected may not maintain a civil action on the basis of noise or noise pollution against the person who owns or operates the sport shooting range.7

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. N.D. Cent. Code § 32-03-54(2). ⤴︎
  2. N.D. Cent. Code § 32-03-54(3). ⤴︎
  3. N.D. Cent. Code § 32-03-54(4). ⤴︎
  4. Id. ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎
  6. N.D. Cent. Code § 32-03-54(4). ⤴︎
  7. N.D. Cent. Code § 42-01-01.1. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Ohio

Ohio law prevents any member of the firearms industry from being held liable for damages or from being subject to an injunction as a result of the operation or discharge of a firearm. This rule does not apply, however, if the industry member operated or discharged the firearm that resulted in the harm in a tortious manner, or if the industry member sold, lent, gave, or furnished the firearm illegally. This rule also does not apply to a product liability action, or an action for breach of contract or breach of an express warranty.1

Ohio provides limited immunity for owners, operators or users of a shooting range.2

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

 

Notes
  1. Ohio Rev. Code § 2305.401(B). “Member of the firearms industry” means any manufacturer, dealer, or importer of firearms, firearms components, or firearms ammunition or any trade association the members of which, in whole or in part, are manufacturers, dealers, or importers of firearms, firearms components, or firearms ammunition. Ohio Rev. Code § 2305.401(A)(4), (C)(2), (3). This statute also applies to tort or other civil actions commenced on or after the effective date of this section, or commenced prior to and pending on the effective date of this section, for damages or injunctive relief based upon harm allegedly sustained by any person as a result of the operation or discharge of a firearm. Ohio Rev. Code § 2305.401(D). ⤴︎
  2. Owners, operators, or users of a shooting range are not liable in damages to any person for harm allegedly caused by noise at a range or the failure to limit or suppress noise at a range if the owner, operator, or user substantially complies with noise rules prescribed by the Chief of the Division of Wildlife (“Chief”). Ohio Rev. Code § 1533.85(A)(1), (2). These provisions do not confer immunity from civil liability in relation to an owner’s, operator’s, or user’s actions or omissions that constitute negligence, willful or wanton misconduct, or intentionally tortious conduct if those actions or omissions are not the subject of the Chief’s noise rules or are not in substantial compliance with the Chief’s rules. Ohio Rev. Code § 1533.85(A)(2)(d). State and municipal courts are not permitted to grant injunctive relief against the owner or operator of a shooting range in a nuisance action if the court determines that the owner’s or operator’s actions or omissions that are the subject of a complaint substantially complied with the Chief’s noise or public safety rules, whichever apply to the nuisance action. Ohio Rev. Code § 1533.85(C). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Oklahoma

Oklahoma provides immunity to the firearms industry:

1. [T]he state Legislature declares that the lawful design, marketing, manufacturing, or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public is not unreasonably dangerous activity and does not constitute a nuisance.

2. The authority to bring suit and right to recover against any firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association, or dealer by or on behalf of any governmental unit created by or pursuant to an act of the Legislature or the Constitution, or any department, agency, or authority thereof, for damages, abatement, or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to the lawful design, manufacturing, marketing, or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public shall be reserved exclusively to the state. This paragraph shall not prohibit a political subdivision or local government authority from bringing an action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer or dealer for breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the political subdivision or local government authority…[and this section] shall not be construed to prohibit an individual from bringing a cause of action based upon an existing recognized theory of law.1

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Okla. Stat. Ann. tit., 21, § 1289.24a. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Oregon

A person other than a gun dealer who requests a voluntary background check on a prospective firearm transferee and receives notification that the transferee is qualified to complete the transfer is immune from civil liability for any use of the firearm from the time of the transfer.1 See the Oregon Private Sales section for information about this immunity.

Any owner, operator or lessee of a shooting range is immune from civil or criminal liability and shall not be subject to an action for noise or noise pollution, and no court shall enjoin the use or operation of a shooting range, based upon an allegation of nuisance, as long as:

  • The allegation results from the normal and accepted activity on the shooting range;
  • The owner, operator or lessee complied with any applicable noise control law or ordinance existing at the time construction of the shooting range began or no noise control law or ordinance was then existing; and
  • The allegation results from activity on the shooting range occurring between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. or conducted for law enforcement training purposes.2

This immunity does not apply, however, to shooting activity conducted for law enforcement purposes unless such activity is limited to four nights a month and the owner, lessee or operator provides notice of the activity at least one week beforehand by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the range is located.3

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Or. Rev. Stat. § 166.436(7)(a). ⤴︎
  2. Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 467.131, 467.133. ⤴︎
  3. Or. Rev. Stat. § 467.138. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Pennsylvania

Firearms Industry

Pennsylvania law prohibits certain lawsuits by political subdivisions against firearms or ammunition manufacturers, trade associations or dealers.1

Section 6120(a.1) provides:

  1. No political subdivision may bring or maintain an action at law or in equity against any firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association or dealer for damages, abatement, injunctive relief or any other relief or remedy resulting from or relating to either the lawful design or manufacture of firearms or ammunition or the lawful marketing or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.

  2. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit a political subdivision from bringing or maintaining an action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer or dealer for breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the political subdivision.2

Section 6120(a.1) has been held to preclude negligence suits by local jurisdictions against gun manufacturers. In Philadelphia v. Beretta, Philadelphia and a number of civic organizations sued several gun manufacturers, alleging that the defendants’ marketing and distribution schemes were responsible for allowing access to firearms by criminals and other prohibited purchasers, thereby harming Philadelphia’s residents.3 Liability was predicated on the defendants’ alleged negligence and the creation of a public nuisance.4

The federal district court, in upholding the constitutionality of section 6120, held that the state “legislature may contract the power of home rule municipalities such as Philadelphia.”5 Finding the city’s lawsuit was based on power it could only have received from the state legislature, and that this power had been revoked by section 6120, the court dismissed the action, holding that “the power to regulate firearms within the state [by legislation or litigation] now lies exclusively with the state legislature.”6

Shooting and Noise Pollution

Pennsylvania law also states that all owners of rifle or pistol ranges are exempt and immune from any civil action or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution resulting from the normal and accepted shooting activity on ranges, provided that the owners of the ranges are in compliance with any applicable noise control laws or ordinances existing at the time construction of the range was initiated.7 Owners of such ranges are also not subject to any action for nuisance and no court may enjoin the use or operation of the ranges on the basis of noise or noise pollution, provided that the owners of the ranges are in compliance with any applicable noise control laws or ordinances existing at the time construction of the range was initiated.8 If no noise control laws or ordinances existed at the time construction of the range was initiated, then the immunity granted by these provisions applies to the ranges.

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

 

Notes
  1. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6120(a.1)(1). ⤴︎
  2. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6120(a.1). ⤴︎
  3. Philadelphia v. Beretta, 126 F. Supp. 2d 882 (E.D. Pa. 2000), aff’d, 277 F.3d 415 (3d Cir. 2002). ⤴︎
  4. Id. ⤴︎
  5. Id. at 892. ⤴︎
  6. Id. at 890. ⤴︎
  7. 35 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 4501. ⤴︎
  8. 35 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 4502. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Rhode Island

No shooting range owner shall be liable in any action for nuisance, and no court shall enjoin the use or operation of the shooting range on the basis of noise or noise pollution, provided the owner continues to be in compliance with any noise control law, ordinance or bylaws in effect at the time of the construction of the range.1 This provision does not authorize a range owner to change the use and/or type of the range, or to expand the use and/or type of the range.2

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-62(a). ⤴︎
  2. R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-47-62(c). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in South Carolina

South Carolina law provides that in a products liability action involving firearms or ammunition, the determination whether a firearm or ammunition shell is defective in design must not be based on a comparison or weighing of the benefits of the product against the risk of injury, damage, or death posed by its potential to cause that injury, damage, or death when discharged.1

Moreover, in a products liability action brought against a firearm or ammunition manufacturer, importer, distributor, or retailer that alleges a design defect, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove, in addition to any other required elements, that:

  • The actual design of the firearm or ammunition was defective, causing it not to function in a manner reasonably expected by an ordinary consumer of firearms or ammunition; and
  • Any defective design was the proximate cause of the injury, damage, or death.2

The state also prohibits a nuisance action for noise against a shooting range or the owners, operators, or users of the range, located in the vicinity of that person’s property if the shooting range was established when the person acquired the property, except if there is a substantial change in the use of the range within the last three years.3 A person who acquired property before a shooting range is established in the vicinity may maintain a nuisance action regarding noise against the range if the action is brought within five years after establishment of the range, or three years after a substantial change in use of the range.4

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. S.C. Code Ann. § 15-73-40(A). ⤴︎
  2. S.C. Code Ann. § 15-73-40(B). ⤴︎
  3. S.C. Code Ann. § 31-18-30(A). ⤴︎
  4. S.C. Code Ann. § 31-18-30(B). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in South Dakota

The South Dakota Legislature has declared that the unlawful use of firearms, rather than their lawful manufacture, distribution, or sale, is the proximate cause of any injury arising from their unlawful use.1

No firearms manufacturer, distributor or seller who lawfully manufactures, distributes or sells a firearm is liable for any injury resulting from use of the firearm by another person.2 Moreover, no association of federally licensed firearms dealers is liable for any injury resulting from the use of a firearm sold or manufactured by any licensee who is a member of such association.3

However, South Dakota’s immunity provisions do not apply to actions for deceit, breach of contract, breach of warranty, or for injuries resulting from the failure of a firearm to operate in a normal or usual manner due to defects or negligence in design or manufacture of the firearm.4 The immunity provisions also do not apply to actions arising from the unlawful sale or transfer of firearms, or instances where the transferor knew or should have known that the recipient would engage in the unlawful sale or transfer of the firearm, or would use or purposely allow the use of the firearm in an unlawful, negligent, or improper manner.5 Note that under the immunity law, the potential of a firearm to cause serious injury, damage, or death as a result of normal function does not constitute a defective condition of the product. In addition, a firearm may not be deemed defective on the basis of its potential to cause serious injury, damage, or death when discharged.6

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. S.D. Codified Laws § 21-58-1. ⤴︎
  2. S.D. Codified Laws § 21-58-2. ⤴︎
  3. S.D. Codified Laws § 21-58-3. ⤴︎
  4. S.D. Codified Laws § 21-58-4. ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎
  6. Id. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Tennessee

The Tennessee General Assembly has declared that the lawful design, marketing, manufacture and sale of firearms and ammunition to the public are not unreasonably dangerous activities and do not constitute a nuisance per se.1

The authority to bring suit and right to recover against any firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association or dealer by or on behalf of any state entity, county, municipality or metropolitan government for damages, abatement or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to the lawful design, manufacture, marketing or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public is reserved exclusively to the state.2

Tennessee’s immunity provisions do not prohibit a county, municipality, or metropolitan government, however, from bringing an action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer or dealer for breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the county, municipality, or metropolitan government.3 Individual persons are are not precluded from bringing a cause of action for breach of a written contract, breach of an express warranty, or for injuries resulting from defects in the materials or workmanship in the manufacture of a firearm.4 These exceptions to immunity do not apply in any other litigation brought by an individual against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association or dealer.5

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

 

Notes
  1. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1314(b). ⤴︎
  2. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1314(c)(1). ⤴︎
  3. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1314(c)(2). ⤴︎
  4. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1314(c)(3). ⤴︎
  5. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1314(d). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Texas

Texas law provides that a governmental unit (including a municipality or county) may not bring suit against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association, or seller for recovery of damages resulting from, or injunctive relief or abatement of a nuisance relating to, the lawful design, manufacture, marketing, or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public, or against a sport shooting range, the owners or operators of a sport shooting range, or the owners of real property on which a sport shooting range is operated, for the lawful discharge of firearms on the sport shooting range.1 The rules regarding sport shooting ranges were added in 2011.

The Texas Attorney General, however, may bring such a suit on behalf of the state or any other governmental unit.2 In addition, a governmental unit acting on behalf of the state or any other governmental unit may bring such a suit if approved in advance by the legislature.3

In addition, a governmental unit may bring an action against a sport shooting range, the owners or operators of a sport shooting range, or the owners of real property on which a sport shooting range is operating for injunctive relief to enforce a valid ordinance, statute, or regulation, or to require the sport shooting range to comply with generally accepted standards followed in the sport shooting range industry in this state at the time of the sport shooting range’s construction, if the sport shooting range began operation after September 1, 2011.4

A governmental unit may bring an action against a firearms manufacturer, trade association, or seller for recovery of damages for:

  • Breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by a governmental unit;
  • Damage or harm to property owned or leased by the governmental unit caused by a defective firearm or ammunition;
  • Personal injury or death, if such action arises from a governmental unit’s claim for subrogation;
  • Injunctive relief to enforce a valid ordinance, statute, or regulation; or
  • Contribution under the law relating to proportionate responsibility.5

In a products liability action brought against a manufacturer or seller of a firearm or ammunition that alleges a design defect in the firearm or ammunition, the burden is on the claimant to prove, in addition to any other elements that the claimant must prove, that:

  • The actual design of the firearm or ammunition was defective, causing the firearm or ammunition not to function in a manner reasonably expected by an ordinary consumer of firearms or ammunition; and
  • The defective design was a producing cause of the personal injury, property damage, or death.6

Further, the “claimant may not prove the existence of the defective design by a comparison or weighing of the benefits of the firearm or ammunition against the risk of personal injury, property damage, or death posed by its potential to cause such injury, damage, or death when discharged.”7

Texas law also prohibits a civil action from being brought against a sport shooting range, or the owner of the range for recovery of damages resulting from, or injunctive relief or abatement of a nuisance relating to, the discharge of firearms.8 Certain exceptions exist. Damages may be awarded, or an injunction may be obtained, in a civil action brought against a sport shooting range if the claimant shows by a preponderance of the evidence, through the testimony of one or more expert witnesses, that the sport shooting range, its owner or operator, or the owner of real property on which it is operated deviated from the standard of care that is reasonably expected of an ordinarily prudent sport shooting range in the same or similar circumstances.9

Texas law prohibits any person from bringing a nuisance or similar cause of action against a shooting range based on noise if the shooting range is in compliance with all applicable municipal and county ordinances, orders, and rules regulating noise, or if no applicable noise ordinance, order, or rule exists.10 In addition:

A governmental official may not seek a civil or criminal penalty against a sport shooting range or its owner or operator based on the violation of a municipal or county ordinance, order, or rule regulating noise:

(1) if the sport shooting range is in compliance with the applicable ordinance, order, or rule; or
(2) if no applicable noise ordinance, order, or rule exists.11

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 128.001(b). ⤴︎
  2. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 128.001(e). ⤴︎
  3. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 128.001(c). ⤴︎
  4. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 128.001(f). ⤴︎
  5. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 128.001(d). ⤴︎
  6. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 82.006(a). ⤴︎
  7. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 82.006(b). ⤴︎
  8. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 128.052(a). A civil action may be brought, however, against a sport shooting range for recovery of damages for:

    • Breach of contract for use of the real property on which a sport shooting range is located;
    • Damage or harm to private property caused by the discharge of firearms on a sport shooting range;
    • Personal injury or death caused by the discharge of a firearm on a sport shooting range; or
    • Injunctive relief to enforce a valid ordinance, statute, or regulation.

    Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 128.052(b).
    ⤴︎

  9. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 128.052(c). The law provides for the use of expert testimony to establish the standard of care. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 128.053. ⤴︎
  10. Tex. Local Gov’t Code § 250.001(c). ⤴︎
  11. Tex. Local Gov’t Code § 250.001(b). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Utah

In 2016, Utah enacted a law mirroring the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA)1 that provides broad immunity to gun manufacturers and dealers in court.2 The wording of Utah’s law is almost identical to the PLCAA.

Like the PLCAA, Utah’s law prohibits “qualified civil liability actions,” which are defined as civil or administrative proceedings which “result[] from the criminal or lawful misuse” of firearms or ammunition. Utah’s law contains the same six exceptions provided by the PLCAA:

(1) an action brought against someone convicted of “knowingly transfer[ing] a firearm, knowing that such firearm will be used to commit a crime of violence” by someone directly harmed by such unlawful conduct;

(2) an action brought against a seller for negligent entrustment or negligence per se;

(3) an action in which a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product knowingly violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the product, and the violation was a proximate cause of the harm for which relief is sought;

(4) an action for breach of contract or warranty in connection with the purchase of the product;

(5) an action for death, physical injuries or property damage resulting directly from a defect in design or manufacture of the product, when used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner, except that where the discharge of the product was caused by a volitional act that constituted a criminal offense, then such act shall be considered the sole proximate cause of any resulting death, personal injuries or property damage; or

(6) an action commenced by the Attorney General to enforce the Gun Control Act or the National Firearms Act.3

Section 53-5d-103 provides that a firearms manufacturer or licensed dealer is subject only to liability regarding unlawful misuse of a firearm or of ammunition if injury or death results from an act that constitutes gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct.

In addition, Utah law provides that a person who lawfully designs, manufactures, markets, advertises, transports, or sells firearms or ammunition to the public may not be sued by the state or any of its political subdivisions for the subsequent use, whether lawfully or unlawfully, of the firearm or ammunition, unless the suit is based on the breach of a contract or warranty for a firearm or ammunition purchased by the state or political subdivision.4

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

 

 

Notes
  1. 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901-7903 ⤴︎
  2. Utah Code Ann. §§ 53-5d-101-103. ⤴︎
  3. § 53-5d-102. ⤴︎
  4. Utah Code Ann. § 78B-4-511. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Vermont

Vermont law provides that the owner or operator of a sport shooting range, and any person lawfully using the range, who is in substantial compliance with any noise use condition of any issued municipal or state land use permit required by law shall not be subject to any civil liability for damages or any injunctive relief resulting from noise or noise pollution.1 If no municipal or state land use permit is otherwise required by law, then the owner or operator of the range and any person lawfully using the range shall not be subject to any civil liability for damages or any injunctive relief relating to noise or noise pollution.2

Vermont Statutes Annotated title 10, section 5227(d) states: “Nothing in this section shall prohibit or limit the authority of a municipality or the state to enforce any condition of a lawfully issued and otherwise required permit.” However, even when the range is found to be not in substantial compliance with a municipal or state land use permit, a nuisance claim against the range may only be brought by an owner of property abutting the range.3 Furthermore, there is a rebuttable presumption that the range does not constitute any form of nuisance if the range was established prior to the acquisition of the property owned by the person bringing the nuisance claim, and the frequency of the shooting or other alleged nuisance activity at the range has not significantly increased since that person’s acquisition of the property.4 This presumption may be rebutted only by an abutting property owner showing that “the activity has a noxious and significant interference with the use and enjoyment” of his or her property.5

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 10, § 5227(b). ⤴︎
  2. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 10, § 5227(c). ⤴︎
  3. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 10, § 5227(e)(1). ⤴︎
  4. Id. ⤴︎
  5. Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 10, § 5227(e)(2). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Virginia

Virginia law states that localities do not have the authority to bring suit against a firearms or ammunition marketer, manufacturer, distributor, dealer, seller, or trade association for damages, abatement, injunctive relief or any other remedy resulting from or relating to the lawful design, marketing, manufacture, distribution, sale, or transfer of firearms or ammunition to the public. This provision applies equally to any state governmental entity, including a department, agency, or authority. The right to bring any such action is reserved exclusively to the Attorney General on behalf of the Commonwealth.1 Localities may bring an action, however, against a firearms or ammunition marketer, manufacturer, distributor, dealer, seller, or trade association for breach of contract or warranty or negligence as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the locality or for injuries resulting from negligence or breach of warranty or contract.2

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Va. Code Ann. § 15.2-915.1. ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Washington

Washington provides that a product manufacturer is subject to liability if a claimant’s harm was proximately caused by the negligence of the manufacturer in that the product was not reasonably safe as designed or not reasonably safe because adequate warnings or instructions were not provided.1 Washington law further provides that:

A product is not reasonably safe as designed, if, at the time of manufacture, the likelihood that the product would cause the claimant’s harm or similar harms, and the seriousness of those harms, outweighed the burden on the manufacturer to design a product that would have prevented those harms and the adverse effect that an alternative design that was practical and feasible would have on the usefulness of the product: PROVIDED, That a firearm or ammunition shall not be deemed defective in design on the basis that the benefits of the product do not outweigh the risk of injury posed by its potential to cause serious injury, damage, or death when discharged. [emphasis added.]2

In addition, state and local governmental entities, public and private agencies, and the employees of any state or local governmental entity or public or private agency, acting in good faith, are immune from liability for:

  • Failure to prevent the sale or transfer of a firearm to a person whose receipt or possession of the firearm is unlawful;
  • Preventing the sale or transfer of a firearm to a person who may lawfully receive or possess a firearm;
  • Issuing a concealed pistol license or alien firearm license to a person ineligible for such a license;
  • Failing to issue a concealed pistol license or alien firearm license to a person eligible for such a license;
  • Revoking or failing to revoke an issued concealed pistol license or alien firearm license;
  • Errors in preparing or transmitting information as part of determining a person’s eligibility to receive or possess a firearm, or eligibility for a concealed pistol license or alien firearm license;
  • Issuing a dealer’s license to a person ineligible for such a license; or
  • Failing to issue a dealer’s license to a person eligible for such a license.3

An application may be made to a court of competent jurisdiction for a writ of mandamus that directs an issuing agency to issue a concealed pistol license or alien firearm license that was wrongfully refused, directing that erroneous information resulting either in the refusal to issue a concealed pistol license or alien firearm license or the denial of a purchase application be corrected, or directing a law enforcement agency to approve an application to purchase a firearm or approve a dealer’s license that was wrongfully denied.4 A court must provide an expedited hearing for an application brought on one of these grounds, and a person granted a writ of mandamus shall be awarded reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.5

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 7.72.030(1). ⤴︎
  2. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 7.72.030(1)(a). ⤴︎
  3. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.0975(1). ⤴︎
  4. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.0975(2). ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in West Virginia

West Virginia law provides that:

(a) The lawful design, marketing, manufacture or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public is not an unreasonably dangerous activity and does not constitute a nuisance per se;
(b) To the extent the Constitution of this state and the United States protect citizens’ rights to keep and bear arms, the Legislature finds and declares that it is within the strict prerogative of its own authority, and not the authority of any county or municipality, to determine whether any manufacturer, dealer or seller of firearms has engaged in any act or omission that would create a cognizable action for damages, injunction or otherwise.1

State law also provides that:

The authority to bring suit and the right to recover against any firearms or ammunition manufacturer, seller, trade association or dealer of firearms by or on behalf of any county or municipality in this state for damages, abatement or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to the design, manufacture, marketing, or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public is reserved exclusively to the state: Provided, That nothing contained in this article may prohibit a county or municipality from bringing an action for breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the county or municipality.2

A person may not maintain a nuisance action for noise against a shooting range located in the vicinity of that person’s property if the range was established when the person acquired the property.3 If there is a substantial change in use of the range after the person acquires the property, the person may maintain a nuisance action if the action is brought within two years from the beginning of the substantial change.4 A person who owns property in the vicinity of a shooting range that was established after the person acquired the property may maintain a nuisance action for noise against the range only if the action is brought within four years after establishment of the range or two years after a substantial change in use of the range.5 If there has been no shooting activity at a range for two years, resumption of shooting is considered establishment of a new range.6

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. W. Va. Code § 55-18-1. ⤴︎
  2. W. Va. Code § 55-18-2. ⤴︎
  3. W. Va. Code § 61-6-23(b). ⤴︎
  4. Id. ⤴︎
  5. W. Va. Code § 61-6-23(c). ⤴︎
  6. W. Va. Code § 61-6-23(d). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Wisconsin

Wisconsin permits the establishment and operation of rifle ranges for “sharpshooting or improving in the use of firearms.”1 Once the grounds of the range are permanently located and developed, no private individuals or parties who acquire title to any property adversely affected by such ranges may file a lawsuit seeking to “restrain, enjoin or impede” the activities at the ranges or of the corporations owning them.2

Any person who owns or operates a sport shooting range is immune from civil liability related to noise resulting from the operation of the range.3 In addition, any person who owns or operates a sport shooting range is not subject to an action for nuisance and no court may enjoin or restrain the operation or use of a sport shooting range on the basis of noise.4 “Sport shooting range” means an area designed and operated for the use and discharge of firearms.5

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Wis. Stat. § 182.021. ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎
  3. Wis. Stat. § 895.527(2). ⤴︎
  4. Wis. Stat. § 895.527(3). ⤴︎
  5. Wis. Stat. § 895.527(1). ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity in Wyoming

Wyoming has provided by statute that, subject to approval by the governor, “[t]he attorney general may seek to intervene or file an amicus curiae brief in any lawsuit filed in any state or federal court in Wyoming, or filed against any Wyoming citizen or firm in any other jurisdiction for damages for injuries as a result of the use of fire arms [sic] that are not defective, if in his judgment, the action endangers the constitutional right of citizens of Wyoming to keep and bear arms.”1

If a sport shooting range is in compliance with any noise control laws or ordinances that applied to the range and its operation at the time construction or operation or the range was approved by a local government, then any person who operates or uses the range is not subject to civil liability or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution resulting from the operation or use of the range, and is not subject to an action for nuisance, and a court cannot enjoin the use or operation or a range on the basis of noise or noise pollution.2 See the Wyoming Preemption/Local Authority to Regulate Firearms summary for further information.

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 9-14-101. ⤴︎
  2. Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 16-11-102. ⤴︎

Gun Industry Immunity New Hampshire

New Hampshire law provides that no civil liability action may be brought in any state court against a trade association, manufacturer, or seller of a “qualified product” for damages resulting from unlawful use of the product by the person bringing the action or by a third party. A “qualified product” is defined as “a firearm or ammunition or a component part of a firearm or ammunition, manufactured in compliance with federal and state law, that has been shipped or transported in intrastate, interstate, or foreign commerce.” An action may still be brought “against a manufacturer, seller, or trade organization convicted of a felony under state or federal law, by a party directly harmed by the felonious conduct.”1 Federal law contains a similar provision.

New Hampshire law also limits state and local regulation of shooting ranges.2

See our Gun Industry Immunity policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 508:21. ⤴︎
  2. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 159-B:1 through 159-B:8 limit state and local regulation of shooting ranges. The owners, operators, or users of a shooting range may not be subject to civil liability or criminal prosecution, a nuisance action, or an action to enjoin the use of operation of the range, on the basis of noise or noise pollution, provided that the owners of the ranges are in compliance with any applicable noise control laws or ordinances in existence at the time the range was established, was constructed, or began operations. Sections 159-B:1, 159-B:2. Subsequent physical expansion of the shooting range or change in the types of firearms in use at the range shall not establish a new date of commencement of operations for the portion or portions of the range in existence prior to the expansion. Section 159-B:3. In addition, a person whose property is in the vicinity of the shooting range may not bring an action for nuisance against the owners, operators or users of the shooting range, if the shooting range was established, constructed, or being used on a regular basis when the person acquired the property. Section 159-B:5. Section 159-B:6 provides that no state standards for limiting noise levels in the “outdoor atmosphere” shall apply to shooting ranges. Section 159-B:4 prohibits the retroactive application of any administrative rule, statute, or ordinance of the state or any of its political subdivisions to a shooting range in operation prior to the adoption, enactment, enforcement, or proposal of the rule, statute or ordinance. The owners of a shooting range have a right of action to enforce the provisions of sections 159-B:1 through 159-B:8. Section 159-B:7. A New Hampshire appellate court cited sections 159-B:2 and 159-B:5 in affirming the dismissal of a nuisance action against a shooting range in Sara Realty, LLC v. Country Pond Fish & Game Club, Inc., 972 A.2d 1038 (N.H. 2009). ⤴︎