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Tags: smith and wesson | nuns | ar-15 | lawsuits | gun control | shareholders | nevada

Smith & Wesson Shareholder Nuns Sue Over AR-15 Rifles

By    |   Tuesday, 05 December 2023 07:27 PM EST

A group of nuns, with shares of stock in Smith & Wesson, have filed an unusual lawsuit against the gun manufacturer in an effort to change the way it makes and markets the AR-15 rifle.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the nuns filed a shareholder derivative action in Nevada state court on Tuesday against publicly traded Smith & Wesson. They argue the company's leaders are putting shareholders at risk and exposing the company to liability with the way they manufacture and sell the popular rifle, which has been used in several recent mass shootings.

While such complaints are common with publicly-traded companies, lawyers the Journal spoke with said it seems to be the first time one has been filed against a gun maker.

The nuns are reportedly not major shareholders in Smith & Wesson and together own approximately 1,000 shares of the company; the small portion allows the group to raise questions about governance, however.

According to the Journal, the 47-page suit was filed in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas by the Adrian Dominican Sisters in Adrian, Mich.; the Sisters of Bon Secours USA, based in Marriottsville, Md.; the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, based in Aston, Pa.; and the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus & Mary, U.S.-Ontario Province, based in Marylhurst, Ore.

The complaint alleges that the gun manufacturer's marketing actions "played a significant role in contributing to many of the most heinous gun crimes in United States history." Smith & Wesson promoted its guns in ads that simulated first-person shooter video games, which are "appealing to young and predominantly male consumers," the suit says.

Jeffrey Norton, a partner with New York law firm Newman Ferrara and the lead attorney for the nuns, told the Journal the legal tactic has worked in other industries.

"The theory we are pursuing has been successful in a lot of different situations, but it's novel in pursuing it with the gun industry," he said.

The nuns are trying to push the company to change its marketing strategy and curb the appeal of the AR-15 to teenagers, younger men, and disturbed people.

"We're trying to get it out of the hands of troubled people," Norton said.

They are also calling for more stringent safety standards for how the semiautomatic rifle is made so that it cannot be easily modified by gun owners to mimic a machine gun.

The legal action comes amid a surge of lawsuits against gun makers that were brought following a $73 million settlement between Remington and the families of the victims in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gun companies, called the lawsuit frivolous.

"This same group has been filing shareholder proposals and losing so I guess they're trying a new tactic," he told the Journal.

Joe Kavan, an attorney who represents gun makers, said it was an unusual approach and the case will be heavily scrutinized.

"It will get a great deal of publicity initially and if they get an activist judge it may survive summary judgment," he told the Journal. "But, with most judges, I can't see how it will survive. It's just too speculative."

Nicole Wells

Nicole Wells, a Newsmax general assignment reporter covers news, politics, and culture. She is a National Newspaper Association award-winning journalist.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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A group of nuns, with shares of stock in Smith & Wesson, have filed an unusual lawsuit against the gun manufacturer in an effort to change the way it makes and markets the AR-15 rifle.
smith and wesson, nuns, ar-15, lawsuits, gun control, shareholders, nevada
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2023-27-05
Tuesday, 05 December 2023 07:27 PM
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