The Nevada Supreme Court ruled unanimously this week that the state’s immunity law prohibits suing gun makers and sellers over Route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting deaths.
The parents of Carrie Parsons, who was killed in the mass shooting at a Las Vegas festival along with more than 50 other people, filed the lawsuit against Colt Arms and other companies that made or sold the weapons used. That suit was transferred to federal district court which then sent questions on Nevada’s statutory immunity provisions protecting gun makers and sellers to the Nevada Supreme Court.
The court ruled unanimously that the statute prohibits the Parsons from suing.
On Oct. 1, 2017, the gunman, Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, committed suicide before he could be arrested. He fired 1,049 rounds into the crowd from a 32nd story hotel room. A total of 58 people died and hundreds were injured.
The parents of Carrie Parsons, James and Ann-Marie, argued the gunman modified his AR-15 rifles with “bump stocks” effectively turning them into illegal machine guns and that the makers of those weapons and accessories knew or should have known the rifles could be easily converted to illegal weapons, voiding the immunity statute.
In a nutshell, the high court ruled the extent of Nevada’s immunity statute is a matter for the Legislature to deal with, not the judiciary.
The existing statute, they ruled, “provides the gun companies immunity from the wrongful death and negligence per se claims asserted against them under Nevada law in this case,” the 20-page opinion concludes.
“We in no way underestimate the profound public policy issues presented or the horrific tragedy the route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting inflicted,” the opinion states.
They urged the Legislature to act, “if it did not mean to provide immunity in situations like this.