On February 14, 2022, Renzulli Law Firm won a motion for summary judgment dismissing claims against a firearms dealer pursuant to New Hampshire’s firearms industry immunity law.  RLF’s client, a federally licensed firearms dealer in New Hampshire, legally sold a firearm to a purchaser.  Six weeks later, the purchaser used the firearm to shoot two police officers.  The purchaser was not a prohibited person under federal or state law and his answers on the Form 4473 indicated that it was legal to transfer the firearm to him.  The purchaser had a history of mental health issues, but that information was never disclosed to the dealer.  Despite having followed all laws and being unaware of the purchaser’s mental health issues, the injured officers sued the dealer and the State of New Hampshire.
Judge Ruoff of the Rockingham County Superior Court granted RLF’s motion for summary judgment pursuant to New Hampshire’s firearms industry immunity law, RSA § 508:21. That statute prohibits the filing of a qualified civil liability action, which it defines as a civil action against a firearms manufacturer or seller for damages resulting from the criminal or unlawful use of a firearm by a third party.  Unlike the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”), the New Hampshire statute’s only exception applies solely to cases in which the manufacturer or seller was convicted of a felony in connection with the sale at issue.  The court concluded that the New Hampshire immunity statute was applicable to the claims raised by the plaintiffs and required the dismissal of their case. 
The court also agreed with RLF in rejecting plaintiffs’ arguments that the statute is unconstitutional.  The court concluded that the immunity statute is substantially related to an important governmental objective: protecting the rights of its law-abiding citizens to obtain firearms to defend themselves and their families, by ensuring that firearms manufacturers and sellers are not forced into bankruptcy through litigation. 
If you have any questions concerning the defense of cases against federally licensed firearms manufacturers and sellers arising from the criminal or unlawful misuse of firearms by third parties pursuant to the PLCAA and similar state statutes, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.