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Gunmakers not liable for Las Vegas shooting massacre deaths, Nevada Supreme Court rules

Vegas shooting victim's family files lawsuit
Parents of Las Vegas massacre victim sue gun makers and dealers: "These are weapons of war" 05:13

The Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that gunmakers and distributors are not responsible for the actions of the gunman in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, CBS affiliate KLAS-TV reports

The parents of Carrie Parsons — one of the 60 people killed in the 2017 mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival victim —filed a lawsuit two years ago, blaming the deaths on gun manufacturers and dealers.

Carrie Parsons Facebook

The lawsuit alleged the manufacturers of the AR-15 assault rifle knew the weapon could be effectively converted into an automatic weapon with the use of a bump stock. Colt, the company that makes the AR-15, was sued along with more than a dozen other defendants.

The AR-15 was one of the weapons that gunman Stephen Paddock used in the attack that left Parsons and 57 others dead at the country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip the night of October 1, 2017. Two other shooting victims later died, bringing the death toll to 60.

But Justice Kristina Pickering, writing the unanimous decision of the court, said state laws protect gunmakers unless the deaths were the result of a manufacturing defect.

"We hold that NRS 41.131 provides the gun companies immunity from the wrongful death and negligence per se claims asserted against them under Nevada law in this case," Pickering wrote.

"We in no way underestimate the profound public policy issues presented or the horrific tragedy the Route 91 Harvest Festival mass shooting inflicted. But this is an area the Legislature has occupied extensively," she wrote.

Pickering added: "We urge the Legislature to act if it did not mean to provide immunity in situations like this one. But as written, NRS 41.131 declares a legislative policy that the [family] cannot proceed with these claims under Nevada law."

In the fall of 2017, Carrie Parsons flew from Seattle to Las Vegas to attend the music festival. She never made it home.

As the Parsons later learned, the shooter had used a dozen different rifles, each modified to simulate a machine gun with automatic fire. That allowed him to fire more than a bullet a second. 

"These are weapons of war…" Carrie's father Jim Parsons told CBS in 2019. "So you don't have to be a marksman to shoot 300 or 600 yards. He didn't target anyone, he just mowed 'em down. They didn't have a chance."

Las Vegas Shooting Lawsuit
In this March 6, 2018, photo, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, center, shakes hands with Jim Parsons, lower right, of Bainbridge Island, Washington, as Parsons' wife Ann-Marie, upper right, looks on after Inslee signed a measure into law that bans the sale and possession of bump stocks.  Ted S. Warren/AP

Josh Kosoff, the couple's lawyer, told CBS that "the problem is, you're selling a machine gun by law." When asked about the idea that "guns don't kill people, people kill people," Kosoff said that "my answer is people kill people with guns."

"The amount of firepower that rained down on those concertgoers on October 1 could not have occurred without an AR-15 … modified by a bump stock to boot, because it just dumped out so much lead, and for such a prolonged period of time," Kosoff added. "That kind of firepower is what killed Carrie."

Another gunmaker, Remington, is being sued by several families of Sandy Hook Elementary School victims for wrongful death.

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