See our Immunity Statutes / Manufacturer Litigation policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
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
For detailed information about government and private party lawsuits against the gun industry, the status of litigation involving gun industry immunity statutes in various states, or pending gun industry immunity legislation, visit the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Gun Industry Immunity page.