Safe, reliable “smart gun” technology doesn’t exist. That’s one reason guns featuring the tech aren’t available for sale in the United States. The other reason was the longstanding New Jersey poison pill law that mandated the technology in every gun sold in the state once a gun using it was marketed anywhere in the country.
Now, however, survivors of a 2018 shooting in Toronto are suing Smith & Wesson, the maker of the stolen pistol used in the crime, for failing to equip the M&P40 pistol with “smart gun” features.
As the BBC reports,
Toronto’s Danforth Avenue shooting victims have launched a class action lawsuit against US gun maker Smith & Wesson.
A statement of claim filed in a Canadian court alleges the gunmaker was negligent for not incorporating “smart gun” technology in the firearm used in the shooting.
The proposed class action is seeking C$150m ($114m; £87m) in damages.
Two people were killed and 13 injured in the attack on 22 July, 2018.
A gunman opened fire in Toronto’s Greektown district on Sunday night, leaving 13 people injured – including a young girl – and one dead #torontoshooting
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) July 23, 2018
The shooter used a Smith & Wesson M&P40 that had been stolen from a Saskatchewan gun dealer back in 2015.
The statement of claim filed at the Ontario Superior Court on Monday says Smith & Wesson had agreed to incorporate smart gun technology into its new weapons in 2003, and was aware that thousands of handguns are stolen each year.
The 40 series, introduced in 2005, did not include that technology. That includes the M&P40 semi-automatic pistol used by the shooter, Faisal Hussain. …
“[The] defendant knew the handgun was an ultra-hazardous product that posed a substantial likelihood of harm to the public,” says the statement of claim.
“In the circumstances, [the] defendant owed a duty to the Class to ensure that any handguns it made available to the Canadian market were designed and manufactured to implement technology that would prevent unauthorised users from causing the very type of harm and injury suffered by the Class members.”
What was that 2003 agreement referenced in the suit? That was the deal reached between Smith & Wesson and the Clinton Justice Department in 2000 that the administration said a the time would “fundamentally change the way guns are designed, distributed and marketed.”
The agreement committed Smith & Wesson to a variety of steps the Clintonistas claimed would reduce “gun violence,” including the following:
Two percent of annual firearms revenues will be dedicated to the development of authorized user technology that can limit a gun’s use to its proper owner. Authorized user technology will be included in all new firearm models within 36 months.
That’s the 2003 date referenced in the Canadian complaint.
The Clinton administration agreement became, in effect, moot with the passage of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2006. That law protects gun makers from liability when their lawfully-sold products are used to commit crimes.
The PLCAA, however, doesn’t apply north of the border.
Will the fact that reliable “smart gun” technology doesn’t exist yet be a persuasive defense if and when the case comes to trial?
Watch this space.