Kahr Arms, a Massachusetts-based firearms manufacturer, has agreed to pay almost $600,000 to the families of two shooting victims, in what’s being billed as the largest-ever settlement in a lawsuit linking a gun maker’s alleged negligence to a shooting incident.
The case is fairly unique (and therefore may not be exactly ripe for precedent-setting) because the company’s wrongdoing came via its failure to provide adequate security against theft at its manufacturing plant. According to the Worcester Telegram & Gazzette, those security lapses allowed a drug-addicted Kahr employee to steal handgun parts, assemble the gun, and then sell the weapon for cocaine. After the gun changed hands a second time in another drugs-for-guns transaction, it was used to shoot two people (one fatally) at a nightclub in Worcester, Massachusetts. Another strike against Kahr: the employee was hired despite the fact that he had a criminal record.
The settlement is significant not just for the high dollar value, but also because it came after enactment of a federal gun law (the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act) which gun makers have argued shields them from liability in most civil cases — this according to the Brady Campaign for Gun Violence, which was co-counsel in the Kahr lawsuit.