75 Wash. L. Rev. 941 (2000)
Mail-Order Gun Kits and Fingerprint-Resistant Pistols: why Washington Courts Should Impose a Duty on Gun Manufacturers to Market Firearms Responsibly

handle is hein.journals/washlr75 and id is 957 raw text is: Copyright 0 2000 by Washington Law Review Association

MAIL-ORDER GUN KITS AND FINGERPRINT-
RESISTANT PISTOLS: WHY WASHINGTON COURTS
SHOULD IMPOSE A DUTY ON GUN MANUFACTURERS
TO MARKET FIREARMS RESPONSIBLY
Amy Edwards
Abstract: Plaintiffs have historically been unsuccessful in suing gun manufacturers for
injuries inflicted by the criminal acts of third parties. Until recently, with one exception,
courts uniformly found no basis for liability under either strict liability or general negligence
claims. In three recent cases, however, courts have imposed a duty under negligent-marketing
theories. These theories have yet to be tested in Washington. This Comment examines the
potential viability of a lawsuit by victims of gun violence against gun manufacturers for
negligent marketing in Washington. It ultimately concludes that Washington courts can and
should impose a duty on gun manufacturers to refrain from marketing their products in a
manner that increases the risk that the guns will be used for criminal activity.
Gun violence filled the headlines in 1999. In Colorado, two students
armed with two shotguns, an assault rifle, and a TEC-9 assault pistol shot
twenty-six people at Columbine High School, killing thirteen.' In Los
Angeles, California, a Washington resident opened fire on people in a
Jewish Community Center using a semi-automatic gun resembling an
Uzi.2 He peppered the building with approximately seventy shots,
injuring five people, including three children? While fleeing the
community center, he shot and killed a postal worker with a 9-mm Glock
26 handgun.4 The shooter obtained both weapons in Washington.5 In
Seattle, Washington, a man walked into a shipyard building at the north
end of Lake Union and shot four people with a handgun, killing two.6
Gun-related violence affects many people in Washington every year.
In 1998 alone, firearms caused 542 deaths7 and 304 injuries. In 1997,
1. See Handgun Control, Private Sales at Gun Shows: Your Friendly Neighborhood Unregulated
Arms Bazaar (visited Jan. 1, 2000) <http'//www.handguncontrol.org/gunshws.htm>.
2. See Suspect in LA. Shootings Surrenders in Las Vegas, Seattle Times, Aug. 11, 1999, at Al.
3. See id
4. See Mike Carter & Keiko Morris, Furrow's Gun Originally a Police Weapon, Seattle Times,
Aug. 13, 1999, at A13.
5. See id
6. See Steve Miletich et al., Gunman Kills 2, Wounds 2 in Seattle, Seattle Times, Nov. 3, 1999, at
Al.
7. See Washington State Department of Health (WSDH), Center for Health Statistics, Death
Certificates (Oct. 1999) (CD-ROM).

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