San Diego County Gun Owners (SDCGO), a local political action committee promoting Second Amendment rights, has described as “asinine” a recent lawsuit filed against firearms company Smith & Wesson by a gun control organization on behalf of victims of last year’s shooting at the Chabad of Poway.
Brady Legal, the litigation arm of the gun control group Brady United, recently filed the lawsuit on behalf of Yisroel Goldstein, the now retired rabbi of the synagogue who lost a finger during the April 27, 2019, attack and seven others who were present at the Passover services.
The lawsuit accuses negligence by Smith & Wesson, the Springfield, Mass.-based maker of the M&P 15 Sport II semiautomatic rifle used in the attack, as well as San Diego Guns, a retail store on Mission Gorge Road in the Grantville community that reportedly sold the weapon to the accused shooter. It also names the parents of the accused shooter, John T. Earnest, and the state of California for failing to conduct an adequate background check that would have shown Earnest, age 19 at the time of the attack, was too young to legally purchase the weapon under state law.
“What happened to the synagogue and those who attended was horrific,” said Michael Schwartz, executive director, SDCGO. “But the lawsuit they are filing, in part, is asinine in that they are blaming the gun shop and manufacturer for the actions of a highly disturbed monster. The gun shop followed state law to the letter and communicated with the California DOJ (Department of Justice) flawlessly. The hunting permit issued was legitimate, legal and unaltered. It was issued by California just days prior to the purchase. All applicable laws and regulations were followed and the permit was valid.”
Schwartz continued: “The manufacturer is no more to blame than Ford or Chrysler is to blame for drunk driving. They are also legally protected by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. This is settled law which makes naming them as plaintiffs frivolous. I hope the victims are able to find peace through other means rather than following the advice of those who only want profit.”
Earnest, who remains jailed on state and federal charges for the shooting, faces the death penalty in the state’s prosecution, while a decision on recommended federal capital punishment charges has yet to be announced.
The Poway synagogue lawsuit is reportedly similar to another one filed by Brady Legal on behalf of Sandy Hook family members in 2014 against Remington Arms Co. In a news release, Brady United said it has represented victims of “gun industry negligence for over 30 years, and has won over $60 million in settlements and verdicts in cases brought by Brady for victims and survivors.”