Thursday, April 16, 2020

Interestingly High Density of "Facts"

Family of one of the dead in the Mandalay Bay mass murder is suing Colt.  Their argument is that Colt knowingly designed it to be converted to full auto by replacing factory stock with a bump stock.  If the courts rule in the family's favor, pretty much every semiauto rifle in the country will be a machine gun.  The judge is allowing the suit to go forward based on this set of "facts":
The AR-15 rifle was designed as a military weapon called the M-16 and first saw use in the Vietnam War. Id. at 17-18. The M-16’s “selective fire” feature enabled soldiers to choose between fully automatic, semi-automatic, and three-round burst firing. Id. at 17. As the Vietnam War wound down, AR-15 manufacturers turned to the civilian market. Id. at 18. Rather than design a new weapon, the manufacturers removed the selector switch from the AR-15. Id. Redesign was cost-prohibitive, while removal of the selector switch was cost-effective and allowed marketing of the weapon’s military bona fides. Id. AR-15 exterior components like the stock, barrel, and rail system were preserved as removeable and interchangeable with M-16 parts (a feature the firearm industry calls “modularity”). Id. at 18-19.
If you know much about the AR-15 or M-16 you are doubtless shaking your head in amazement.

1. No.  Gen. LeMay asked for AR-15 testing for Air Force use before the Vietnam War.

2. The 3 shot burst was developed for the M-16 well after the Vietnam War.

3. Ads for the Colt AR-15 appear as early as 1964.

4. And a heck of a lot else changed as well, such as the bolt changes to convert from open bolt to closed bolt, which makes converting an AR-15 to full auto a non-trivial task.

So why did this judge accept this? To get a judge to dismiss such a suit, he is required to accept as true all plausible facts alleged by the plaintiff. Their truth or falsity is determined at trial, after defendant's lawyers have billed an obscene number of hours.  The suit against Lucky Gunner for the Aurora mass murder  left the bereaved parents with a $200,000 bill for Lucky Gunner's legal fees. I am sure they were happy the gun control groups helped them file that suit. 

Here the parents claim that the sale of armor piercing ammunition was a problem.  But any .223 will kill.  Armor piercing might matter if their daughter had been wearing armor, I suppose.


  1. The M16 is a closed-bolt action. There are a number of differences between semi and full auto:

    - larger fire control pocket in the lower
    - extra pin hole in the lower for the auto sear
    - different disconnector
    - different safety / fire select control
    - different hammer profile
    - different bolt carrier profile

    Additionally, the M16 has NEVER used a bump stock to achieve full-auto. No, the parts to convert to full-auto are NOT readily available, and there are SEVERE penalties if you are caught with them (even just the parts).

  2. The original Colt AR-15 now qualifies as a Curio and relic guns, also called C&R, are firearms that are at least 50 years old and/or have historic significance.

  3. I can hold the trigger on my revolver and fan the hammer so therefore it is a machine gun.

    Since it is a Colt 1872 Navy reproduction I'm going to sue Colt.

  4. Three shot burst came with the M16A2, which was fielded during the second term of Reagan: two decades after the gun first entered the military.

  5. The lack of a selector switch is not the only thing needed to be changed. The entire trigger group was redesigned with a semi-automatic only sear. Trigger groups with fully automatic sears are tightly regulated and considered to be machine guns in and of themselves. In the case of the M-14 they would be correct since all military M-14s were equipped with the fully automatic trigger group with only a lockout plug preventing fully automatic fire. The device to do the conversion was the small, t-shaped replacement for the blocking device that could be substituted in a few minutes. The DOJ definition includes the terms of art “shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot”. Thus the little gizmo for the M-14 is a machine gun and the military version of the M-14 is also a machine gun and not salable to the general public. The AR-15, on the other hand, requires the manufacture of a complete trigger group and does not meet the “readily” requirement.

  6. This was a denial of a motion for summary judgment by Colt? To have such counterfactual statements about the AR-15 and the M-16 as the findings of a court is just bizarre. The Motion for Summary Judgment comes after initial discovery, including Interrogatories (Questions to the other party, usually answered in Lawyer-speak by the lawyers, Document Requests, and Requests for admission. A Motion for Summary Judgment is a big motion, with a pleading of the argument, referencing a statement of contested and uncontested facts. This set of facts deemed to be true is unbelievable. We had a phrase for the source of numbers that had no basis in fact, "PIDOMA" (Pulled It Directly Out Of My A--). The Judge must have gotten these facts from the same place, and I cannot imagine the Defendant accepting this. or having not countered such statements in its own motion in opposition.

  7. Not summary judgment, just refusing to issue a dismissal of the case.

  8. Windy Wilson:

    The judge got the facts from the plaintiff, which as a matter of law is the only place a judge is permitted to get facts when considering a motion for dismissal. In this type of mition, the defendant is not permitted to dispute the facts, but only to argue that the facts do not support the complaint.

    In this case some of the claims were dismissed, and others were allowed to continue.

  9. Several years ago I read a story by some journo--I don't remember where, unfortunately, and I haven't been able to find it again--who wanted to see if the claims that it's easy to convert an AR-15 to semi-auto. After looking into what is required for an average person to machine the correct parts, he decided it was not, in fact, "easy".