SOURCE: National Shooting Sports Foundation

May 19, 2006 18:58 ET

New Law Results in California Judge Dismissing Lawsuit Against Firearm Manufacturers

NEWTOWN, CT -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 19, 2006 -- Citing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act that blocks unwarranted lawsuits against firearms manufacturers, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Charles W. Stoll today ruled from the bench ordering complete dismissal of all causes of action against defendants Beretta, Smith & Wesson, Colt and Turners Outdoor Sports, a California firearms dealer, in a case involving the gang murder of a Burbank police officer.

Members of the "Violent Boyz" gang killed Officer Mathew Pavelka in the line of duty during a shootout on November 15, 2003. The complaint, which was brought by Pavelka's relatives, alleged public nuisance, negligence and wrongful death. Defendants Beretta, Smith & Wesson, and Colt were named because their lawfully sold products were used by the gang members. Turners lawfully sold the firearm that was later misused by gang members.

Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry, called the dismissal a significant victory. "While we are dismayed at the tragic loss of life of a brave police officer at the hands of brutal criminals, it's nevertheless wrong to blame manufacturers of tools that law enforcement uses to protect the community."

"Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act precisely to prevent junk lawsuits like this where common sense tells you that manufacturers should not be held responsible for the misuse of their products by criminals," added Keane.

This was the second time since Congress passed the law last October that a judge cited it in dismissing a case. In March, Los Angeles-based federal district court Judge Audrey B. Collins became the first judge in the nation to base a decision on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Collins dismissed a public-nuisance lawsuit filed against Glock and the distributor RSR, which was brought by victims and family members of the now infamous "Jewish Daycare Center" shooting in Los Angeles in 1999 by Buford Furrow, a crazed homicidal maniac.

The case of Pavelka v. Beretta U.S.A., Corp. et al. was filed in the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County, on October 18, 2005. Industry defendants moved for immediate dismissal of the complaint upon the enactment of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (Public Law 109-92).

Contact Information

  • For more information contact:
    Lawrence G. Keane
    (203) 426-1320
    Email Contact