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Here's why a lawsuit against a gunmaker has a slim chance of succeeding

Parents and a teacher sent demands for information to the maker of the gun used in the Uvalde shooting seeking answers and accountability.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — There is not a lawsuit again the manufacturer of the gun used in the Uvalde shooting, not just yet. Instead, there is an initial request for information

It is the first step toward a possible lawsuit modeled after the one that resulted in a $73 million settlement for some Sandy Hook parents in Connecticut.

Before answers or possibly accountability comes, legal paperwork is being created. Lawyers are searching for evidence to see if a lawsuit is feasible. Attorneys requested marketing information from Daniel Defense, the gun maker of the AR-15 used in the Uvalde school shooting.

“We’ve done our own research on the company so far,” said Charla Aldous, a Texas attorney who sent one of the legal requests to Daniel Defense. “Based upon what we’ve seen, it looks like they have actually advertised this assault weapon, literally, an assault weapon, to young men or young women, teens. Some of the ads even had children holding this rifle. We want to get behind it and see, you know, who they were in contact with, what their media strategy was so that we can determine to the extent we can how to prevent this from happening again.”

Yet, suing Daniel Defense based on potential unlawful marketing could be a long shot. That is because Texas laws are different from Connecticut ones involved in the Sandy Hook lawsuit.

“The question is going to be whether the Texas courts agree that the Deceptive Trade Practices Act here in Texas provides the same type of protection to consumers from illegal marketing,” said Ramona Lampley, Dean of St. Mary’s University Law School. “We don’t know how Daniel Defense has marketed this firearm. That’s what the attorneys are trying to figure out from these documents.”

There is also a federal law, the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, that protects gunmakers from lawsuits.

“It’s a very broad statute that provides almost blanket liability protection to gun manufactures,” Lampley said. “That means they cannot be sued when someone such as the perpetrator in Uvalde goes out and commits a massacre.”

Yet, there are several exceptions to those protections, including one about how guns are marketed.

“What the key question is going to be is whether the plaintiffs are able to get sufficient facts that Daniel Defense marketed the product in a what they encouraged unlawful use, maybe military combat use,” Lampley said.

No matter what Texas state courts decide, some said change needs to come at the federal level. Congress could revise the law protecting gunmakers so it is easier to sue gunmakers.

“That would incentivize manufacturers to take another look at their products to ensure they are providing products in the safest possible way,” Lampley said.

Any legal action could take years. The Sand Hook settlement came after a decade.

“I would just point to the fact that the Sandy Hook victims just reached a settlement, not a trial, but a settlement earlier this year,” Lampley said. “Think about how long and painful that process has been for them.”

Why not just sue the gun maker rather than file requests for information first? Attorneys are obligated not to file frivolous lawsuits so they need to make sure the evidence is there first before moving forward with a lawsuit.

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