Jeff Sheppard Discusses Florida School Shootings: Do Parents Have a Right to Sue?

Posted on: February 18, 2018
NEW JERSEY. On Valentine’s Day, a man carrying a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle stormed his former high school north of Miami, Florida and went on a shooting rampage. 17 people were killed and many more were injured. The New York Times reports that the death toll could possibly rise. When devastating school shootings happen, the country revives its national political discussion about gun control. But, is there anything victims and families can do?

According to the University of Michigan, families of school shooting victims have been turning to lawsuits to seek justice. Parents have sued school boards, principals, teachers, parents, students, and gun makers. In Florida, students at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High, where the shooting took place, students were subjected to regular school shooting drills. One of the more publicized kind of lawsuit is when families band together to sue gun manufacturers.

For example, families devastated by the Newtown school shooting have been pushing their case through to the Supreme Court in the hopes that they will be permitted to sue the manufacturers and sellers of the semiautomatic rifles that resulted in the death of their loved ones. Currently, federal law protects gun companies from facing lawsuits.

However, according to the New York Times, the families have been fighting to make gun companies’ internal communications subject to discovery. The hope is that by making these communications public, the general public can get a better sense of how major gun companies run their businesses. In the absence of major changes to gun control laws, the families hope that the litigation could open other channels for families to pursue gun control.

However, the gun lobby and the NRA believe that the lawsuits are being used to regulate gun ownership and limit gun rights. Gun sellers and gun makers are immune from personal injury lawsuits related to guns. However, there are important exceptions to these laws. For example, if a person gives or sells a gun to a person who is “high risk” or if gun sellers and manufacturers violate state and local laws in marketing their guns, they could be liable in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

Gun control advocates, families, and victims have been arguing for years that semiautomatic rifles should not be legal. These guns were designed to be used by military personnel. They are capable of harming and killing many people at once.

The legal and political battle regarding gun ownership, victims’ rights, and public protections is likely to go on for some time. The gun lobby continues to be incredibly powerful in terms of financial and political muscle. But, as more Americans are impacted by shootings, the gun control lobby may be able to gain a political voice.

Jeff Sheppard Esq. is a personal injury lawyer in New Jersey who is closely watching the situation. While families may have a tough time suing gun manufacturers, they still have legal options open to them. For example, families can sue the person who performed the shooting and they can also pursue the shooter’s family, if the family made the gun available to him or her. If you have legal questions about your rights after suffering an injury due to a violent act, consider reaching out to Jeff Sheppard Esq. at Our firm may be able to help you answer your questions.