SAN DIEGO (AP) – A California judge has ruled that victims of the 2019 synagogue shooting near San Diego, which killed one worshiper and injured three, can sue the semi-automatic rifle maker and the store guns that sold it to the teenage shooter, according to a newspaper report.
Superior Court Judge Kenneth Medel said on Wednesday that victims and families of the Poway, Calif., Synagogue shooting have sufficiently alleged that Smith & Wesson, the nation’s largest arms manufacturer, knew that his AR-15 type rifle could easily be transformed into a machine gun. as an assault weapon in violation of state law.
A 2005 federal law protects gun manufacturers from damage in most cases for crimes committed with their guns. But it does allow lawsuits if the manufacturer was negligent or knowingly violated any federal or state law, the Chronicle of San Francisco reported Thursday.
Medel said the plaintiffs may also be able to pursue their allegations that Smith & Wesson negligently marketed the gun to young people on social media and in video game-style ads, the newspaper said.
The judge also said the store, San Diego Guns, could face prosecution for selling the gun to John Earnest, who was 19 and did not have a hunting license that would have exempted him from the minimum age of 21 years old in California for owning long guns.
Prosecutors say Earnest, a nursing student, opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle on the last day of Passover services in April 2019. The attack killed Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, and in injured three others, including an 8-year-old. old maid and the rabbi, who lost a finger.
Earnest then allegedly called 911 to say he had brought down a synagogue because Jews were trying to “destroy all white people,” authorities said.
Earnest faces state murder charges with a death sentence and federal hate crime charges.
Wednesday’s decision is a victory for “all Americans who believe the gun industry is not above the law,” said Jon Lowy, chief counsel for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, who sued on behalf of the victims.
Lawyers for Smith & Wesson did not immediately respond to the Chronicle’s request for comment.