State Immunity Statutes

Immunity Statutes in Alabama

Posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

(This section was last updated August 17, 2010.)

The Alabama Attorney General, by and with the consent of the Governor, has the exclusive authority to bring or settle any lawsuit resulting from or relating to the design, manufacture, marketing, or lawful sale of firearms or ammunition, or both, if the lawsuit is one:

  • In which the state has an exclusive interest or right to recover against any firearm or ammunition manufacturer, trade association, or dealer; or
  • On behalf of any governmental unit created by or pursuant to an act of the Legislature or the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, or any department, agency, or authority thereof.1

A county or municipal corporation may, however, bring an action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer or dealer for breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the political subdivision or local governmental authority.

Alabama also immunizes sport shooting range owners and users from certain kinds of lawsuits. Alabama law states that any person, firm, or entity who operates or uses a sport shooting range shall not be subject to civil liability or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution or lead or lead pollution resulting from the operation or use of the range.2 Furthermore, any person, firm, or entity that operates or uses a sport shooting range is not subject to an action for nuisance and is not subject to injunction to stop the use or operation of the shooting range on the basis of noise or noise pollution or lead or lead pollution.3

For detailed information about government and private party lawsuits against the gun industry, the status of litigation involving gun industry immunity statutes in various states, or pending gun industry immunity legislation, visit the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Gun Industry Immunity page.

See our Immunity Statutes / Manufacturer Litigation policy summary for further information.

  1. Ala. Code § 11-80-11(c). []
  2. Ala. Code § 6-5-341(b)(2). []
  3. Ala. Code § 6-5-341(b)(3). For these immunity provisions to apply, the range must be operated between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., and either must have been in existence prior to 1990 or was in compliance with any noise or lead control laws or ordinances that applied to the sport shooting range and its operation on August 1, 2001, or at the time the sport shooting range came into existence, whichever event occurred first. Ala. Code § 6-5-341(b)(2), (3). []

Immunity Statutes in Alaska

Posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Alaska law significantly limits civil lawsuits against firearms manufacturers and dealers:

A civil action to recover damages or to seek injunctive relief may not be brought against a person who manufactures or sells firearms or ammunition if the action is based on the lawful sale, manufacture, or design of firearms or ammunition. However, this section does not prohibit a civil action resulting from a negligent design, a manufacturing defect, a breach of contract, or a breach of warranty.1

A person who provides firearm training to a person who receives a permit is not liable for any damage or harm caused by the person receiving the training and permit.2

A person is not liable for any injury or damage resulting from the storage of a firearm in the vehicle of another.3

See the Machine Guns section for the immunity law related to machine guns.

For detailed information about government and private party lawsuits against the gun industry, the status of litigation involving gun industry immunity statutes in various states, or pending gun industry immunity legislation, visit the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Gun Industry Immunity page.

See our Immunity Statutes / Manufacturer Litigation policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Alaska Stat. § 09.65.155. []
  2. Alaska Stat. § 18.65.745(b). []
  3. Alaska Stat. § 18.65.800(c). []

Immunity Statutes in Arizona

Posted on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

(This section was last updated June 28, 2010.)

Arizona prohibits political subdivisions of the State from bringing civil actions for damages against manufacturers or sellers of non-defective firearms or component parts of firearms or ammunition when the civil action results from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a such products by a third party. This rule does not prevent actions against persons convicted of knowingly transferring a firearm illegally by a party directly harmed by this conduct.1

Arizona provides an affirmative defense to any civil liability or claim for equitable relief arising from noise or noise pollution from an outdoor shooting range that is in compliance with Arizona law.2

For detailed information about government and private party lawsuits against the gun industry, the status of litigation involving gun industry immunity statutes in various states, or pending gun industry immunity legislation, visit the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Gun Industry Immunity page.

See our Immunity Statutes Policy Summary for further information.

  1. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 12-714(A) states that “[a] political subdivision of this state shall not commence a qualified civil liability action in any Arizona court.” “Qualified civil liability action” is defined as “a civil action brought by a political subdivision against a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product or a trade association, for damages resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a qualified product by a third party.” Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 12-714(C)(2). This does not include an action brought against a transferor convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 924(h) or Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 13-3102(A)(14) by a party directly harmed by the conduct of which the transferee is convicted. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 12-714(C)(2). Under Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 12-714(C)(3), “qualified product” means a non-defective firearm as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3) or non-defective ammunition as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(17), or a component part of a firearm or ammunition, that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce. “Seller” includes a person who, in the course of a business conducted for that purpose, is involved in placing a qualified product in the stream of commerce. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 12-714(C)(4). “Seller” also includes a person who repairs or maintains any aspect of a qualified product. Id. []
  2. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 17-605(A). []

Immunity Statutes in Arkansas

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Arkansas law reserves the authority to bring a lawsuit and the right to recover against a firearm or ammunition manufacturer, trade association, or dealer exclusively to the state. A city, town or county may not seek relief for loss resulting from the lawful design, manufacture, marketing, or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.1

A similar statute prohibits a person or entity from bring an action other than produce liability action against a firearms, nonpowder gun or ammunition manufacturer, importer, or dealer for loss arising from injury, damage, or death caused by a firearm, nonpowder gun, or ammunition. A court must dismiss any action prohibited by this statute and award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to the defendants.2

There are exceptions for actions claiming:

  • Intentional or negligent discharge of a firearm, a nonpowder gun, or ammunition by the manufacturer, importer, or dealer; or
  • An act of the manufacturer, importer, or dealer in violation of a state or federal law or regulation. The plaintiff has the burden to prove, in such a case, that the defendant violated the state or federal law or regulation.3

Arkansas law provides that the proximate cause of injury in a product liability action involving firearms, nonpowder guns or ammunition, may not be the inherent capability of these devices to cause injury, damage, or death.4 In addition, the manufacturer’s, importer’s, or distributor’s placement of a firearm, a nonpowder gun, or ammunition into the stream of commerce may not be deemed to constitute the proximate cause of injury, damage, or death, even if the device discharges unintentionally and the discharge was foreseeable.5

A plaintiff may recover in an action in which he or she proves that the proximate cause of the injury, damage, or death was:

  • A defective firearm, nonpowder gun, or ammunition; or
  • A defectively designed firearm, nonpowder gun, or ammunition that did not function as reasonably expected by the ordinary consumer.6

There are no cases interpreting these laws.

For detailed information about government and private party lawsuits against the gun industry, the status of litigation involving gun industry immunity statutes in various states, or pending gun industry immunity legislation, visit the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Gun Industry Immunity page.

See our Immunity Statutes / Manufacturer Litigation policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Ark. Code Ann. §§ 14-16-504(b)(2), 14-54-1411(b)(2). There is an exception for breach of contract or warranty lawsuits for firearms or ammunition purchased by the local unit of government. []
  2. Ark. Code Ann. § 16-116-202. []
  3. Id. []
  4. Ark. Code Ann. § 16-116-201. []
  5. Id. []
  6. Ark. Code Ann. § 16-116-203. []

Immunity Statutes in California

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2012

See our Immunity Statutes / Manufacturer Litigation policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

California no longer provides legal immunity for the firearms industry, although a federal law enacted in 2005 does. On September 25, 2002, California Governor Gray Davis signed legislation to repeal an immunity law that California adopted in 1983 that had provided special legal protection to the gun industry. That statute had stated that, “[i]n a product liability action, no firearm or ammunition must be deemed defective in design on the basis that the benefits of the product do not outweigh the risk of injury posed by its potential to cause serious injury, damage, or death when discharged.” The California Legislature moved to repeal the immunity law following the California Supreme Court’s decision in Merrill v. Navegar, a case holding that the California immunity law immunized an assault weapons manufacturer from a negligence action brought by the victims of the 101 California Street massacre.1

However, on October 26, 2005, the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”) became law.2 The PLCAA generally immunizes gun manufacturers, distributors, and dealers from liability whenever a person is damaged as a result of the “criminal or unlawful misuse” of a firearm, even if that criminal act or misuse is foreseeable because of industry negligence or recklessness. This sweeping legislation precludes most actions in state as well as federal court and required the immediate dismissal of most pending lawsuits against the gun industry. The PLCAA also nullified California’s repeal of its own immunity law.

The validity and scope of the PLCAA and its exceptions are being tested in courts across the country. For information about these lawsuits and more information about the PLCAA in general, see the Immunity Statutes section of our federal law page.

California law also limits the liability of sport shooting ranges for noise or noise pollution resulting from the range.3

For detailed information about government and private party lawsuits against the gun industry, the status of litigation involving gun industry immunity statutes in various states, or pending gun industry immunity legislation, visit the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Gun Industry Immunity page.

  1. Merrill v. Navegar, 28 P.3d 116 (Cal. 2001). []
  2. 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901 – 7903. []
  3. Cal. Civil Code § 3482.1(b) provides:
    (1) Except as provided in [§ 3482.1(f)], a person who operates or uses a sport shooting range in this state must not be subject to civil liability or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution resulting from the operation or use of the range if the range is in compliance with any noise control laws or ordinances that applied to the range and its operation at the time construction or operation of the range was approved by a local public entity having jurisdiction in the matter, or if there were no such laws or ordinances that applied to the range and its operation at that time.
    (2) Except as provided in [§ 3482.1(f)], a person who operates or uses a sport shooting range or law enforcement training range is not subject to an action for nuisance, and a court must not enjoin the use or operation of a range on the basis of noise or noise pollution if the range is in compliance with any noise control laws or ordinances that applied to the range and its operation at the time construction or operation of the range was approved by a local public entity having jurisdiction in the matter, or if there were no such laws or ordinances that applied to the range and its operation at that time.
    Cal. Civ. Code § 3482.1(f) provides that local jurisdictions may require that noise levels at the nearest residential property line to a range not exceed the level of normal city street noise, which must not be more than 60 decibels for nighttime shooting. []

Immunity Statutes in Colorado

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2012

(This section was last updated October 25, 2010.)

Colorado law provides that:

A person or other public or private entity may not bring an action in tort, other than a product liability action, against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, importer, or dealer for any remedy arising from physical or emotional injury, physical damage, or death caused by the discharge of a firearm or ammunition.1

Product liability actions for injury, damage, or death caused by the discharge of a firearm or ammunition may be based only upon “an actual defect in the design or manufacture of such firearm or ammunition and not upon the inherent potential of a firearm or ammunition to cause injury, damage, or death when discharged.”2

Colorado prohibits a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, importer, or dealer from being held liable as a third party “for the actions of another person.” Plaintiffs are liable for attorney fees in suits dismissed under the law.3

Colorado permits actions against a firearm or ammunition manufacturer, importer, or dealer for any damages proximately caused by an act of the manufacturer, importer, or dealer in violation of a state or federal statute or regulation.”4 In any such action, the plaintiff has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant violated the state or federal statute or regulation.5

Colorado also provides rules regarding proximate cause relevant to product liability actions involving firearms or ammunition:

(1) In a product liability action, the actual discharge of a firearm or ammunition shall be the proximate cause of injury, damage, or death resulting from the use of such product and not the inherent capability of the product to cause injury, damage, or death.

(2) The manufacturer’s, importer’s, or distributor’s placement of a firearm or ammunition in the stream of commerce, even if such placement is found to be foreseeable, shall not be conduct deemed sufficient to constitute the proximate cause of injury, damage, or death resulting from a third party’s use of the product.

(3) In a product liability action concerning the accidental discharge of a firearm, the manufacturer’s, importer’s, or distributor’s placement of the product in the stream of commerce shall not be conduct deemed sufficient to constitute proximate cause, even if accidental discharge is found to be foreseeable.

(4) In addition to any limitation of an action set forth in section 13-80-119, in a product liability action brought by the criminal, it shall be an absolute defense that the injury, damage, or death immediately resulted from the use of the firearm or ammunition during the commission of the criminal act which is a felony or a class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor.6

Nothing contained in the product liability provisions for guns or ammunition will bar recovery where a plaintiff proves that the proximate cause of the injury, damage or death was a firearm or ammunition which contained a defect in manufacture causing it to be at variance from its design, or which was designed so that it did not function in the manner reasonably expected by an ordinary consumer of such a product.7

Finally, Colorado law limits lawsuits against shooting ranges based on noise emanating from the range.8

For detailed information about government and private party lawsuits against the gun industry, the status of litigation involving gun industry immunity statutes in various states, or pending gun industry immunity legislation, visit the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Gun Industry Immunity page.

See our Immunity Statutes & Manufacturer Litigation policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-504.5(1). []
  2. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-501. []
  3. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-504.5(2), (3). []
  4. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-504.5(4). []
  5. Id. []
  6. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-504. []
  7. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-505. []
  8. See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 25-12-109(3). []

Immunity Statutes in Connecticut

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2012

(This section was last updated April 19, 2011.)

Connecticut exempts from criminal prosecution, and makes immune from civil liability, any owner, operator or user of a firing or shooting range operating on October 1, 1998, with respect to noise or noise pollution violations resulting from shooting activity on such range, provided the range was, at the time of its construction or operational approval by the municipality in which it is located, in compliance with Connecticut General Statutes Chapter 442 and related regulations.1 State law does not, however, limit the ability of a municipality to regulate an increase in noise attributable to a physical expansion of an existing firing or shooting range.2

For detailed information about government and private party lawsuits against the gun industry, the status of litigation involving gun industry immunity statutes in various states, or pending gun industry immunity legislation, visit the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Gun Industry Immunity page.

See our Immunity States/Manufacturer Litigation policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22a-74a(a). []
  2. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22a-74a(c). []

Immunity Statutes in Delaware

Posted on Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Compliance with the background check provisions of Delaware Code Annotated Title 11, § 1448A is a complete defense to any claim or cause of action under Delaware law for liability for damages arising from the importation or manufacture, or subsequent sale or transfer of a firearm shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce to a person convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.1

Delaware law also provides that:

No shooting range or hunting operation…shall be or become a nuisance, private or public, by any changed conditions in or about the locality thereof after the same has been in operation for more than 1 year if the operation or the change did not constitute a nuisance from the date the shooting range or hunting operation began or the date the change in the operation began. Likewise, a shooting range or hunting operation which fully complied with local zoning requirements when operations first began shall not be deemed to be non-compliant based upon zoning requirements which have subsequently changed since the initial commencement of operations.2

This section does not apply, however, when:

  • A nuisance results from the negligent or improper operation of the shooting range or hunting operation;
  • There has been a significant and fundamental change in the hunting operation or operation of the shooting range;
  • The shooting range or hunting operations do not conform to federal, state or local health or zoning requirements; or
  • The shooting range or hunting operations are conducted in a negligent or unlawful manner.3

For detailed information about government and private party lawsuits against the gun industry, the status of litigation involving gun industry immunity statutes in various states, or pending gun industry immunity legislation, visit the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Gun Industry Immunity page.

See our Immunity Statutes / Manufacturer Litigation policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Del. Code Ann. tit. 11, § 1448A(c). []
  2. Del. Code Ann. tit. 10, § 8142(c). []
  3. Del. Code Ann. tit. 10, § 8142(b), (d). []

Immunity Statutes in Florida

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2012

(This section was last updated June 10, 2010.)

Florida law prohibits any legal action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, distributor or dealer, or firearms trade association, on behalf of Florida or its agencies, or on behalf of a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state, for damages, abatement, or injunctive relief, arising out of the lawful design, marketing, distribution, or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.1 This law, however, does not prohibit a person from bringing an action against such an entity, for breach of a written contract, breach of an express warranty, or injuries resulting from a defect in the materials or workmanship of a firearm or ammunition.2 Furthermore, actions against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, distributor, or dealer are permitted for:

  • Breach of contract or warranty in connection with a firearm or ammunition purchased by a county, municipality, or other political subdivision or agency of the state; or
  • Injuries resulting from the malfunction of a firearm or ammunition due to a defect in design or manufacture.3

For any civil actions brought in violation of these provisions, a defendant to such action may recover all resulting expenses, including attorney’s fees, costs and compensation for loss of income, from the governmental entity bringing the action.4

Florida also immunizes any sport shooting or training range from lawsuits brought by the state and any of its agencies or political subdivisions for any claims associated with the use or accumulation of a projectile on or under the range, or any other property over which the range has a legal right of use, if the range owner or operator has made a good faith effort to comply with the appropriate environmental management practices.5 For more information, see the Florida section of our State Preemption / Local Authority to Regulate Firearms policy summary. A separate Florida law immunizes any person who operates or uses a sport shooting range from civil liability or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution resulting from the range.6

For detailed information about government and private party lawsuits against the gun industry, the status of litigation involving gun industry immunity statutes in various states, or pending gun industry immunity legislation, visit the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Gun Industry Immunity page.

See our Immunity Statutes / Manufacturer Litigation policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Fla. Stat. § 790.331(2). Moreover, a county, municipality, special district, or other political subdivision or agency of the state may not sue for or recover from a firearms or ammunition manufacturer, distributor or dealer, or firearms trade association, damages, abatement, or injunctive relief in any case that arises out of or results from the lawful design, marketing, distribution, or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public. Fla. Stat. § 790.331(3). []
  2. Fla. Stat. § 790.331(2). []
  3. Fla. Stat. § 790.331(4). According to Florida law, the potential of a firearm or ammunition to cause serious injury, damage, or death as a result of normal function does not constitute a defective condition of the product, and a firearm or ammunition may not be deemed defective on the basis of its potential to cause serious injury, damage, or death when discharged legally or illegally. Fla. Stat. § 790.331(5). Florida law includes a statement that the manufacture, distribution, or sale of firearms and ammunition by duly licensed manufacturers, distributors, or dealers is a “lawful activity” and “not unreasonably dangerous.” Fla. Stat. § 790.331(1). It also states that “the unlawful use of firearms and ammunition, rather than their lawful manufacture, distribution, or sale, is the proximate cause of injuries arising from their unlawful use.” Id. []
  4. Fla. Stat. § 790.331(6). []
  5. Fla. Stat. § 790.333(5)(a); see also Fla. Stat. § 790.333(4). However, nothing in this law is intended to impair or diminish the private property rights of owners of property adjoining a sport shooting or training range. Fla. Stat. § 790.333(5)(b). []
  6. See Fla. Stat. § 823.16(2), (3). []

Immunity Statutes in Georgia

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Georgia law reserves to the state the authority to bring suit and recover against any firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association, or dealer by or on behalf of any governmental unit, or department or agency thereof, for damages, abatement, or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to the lawful design, manufacture, marketing, or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.1 However, this rule does not prohibit a political subdivision or local government authority from bringing an action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer or dealer for breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the political subdivision or local government authority.2

The Georgia General Assembly has declared that the lawful design, marketing, manufacture, or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public is not an unreasonably dangerous activity and does not constitute a nuisance per se.3

In Sturm, Ruger & Company v. City of Atlanta, the Court of Appeals of Georgia reversed the denial of a motion to dismiss a city’s negligence claim against gun manufacturers, dealers, and trade associations in connection with the design, marketing and distribution of firearms.4 Among other things, the court held that the lawsuit was precluded by the laws described above.5 The court held that these statutes could be applied retroactively and that such retroactive application did not offend the state constitutional prohibitions on retroactive laws, special laws, or the state constitutional separation of powers doctrine.6 See Local Authority to Regulate Firearms in Georgia for further details about this lawsuit.

Finally, no sport shooting range or unit of government or person owning, operating, or using a sport shooting range for the sport shooting of firearms is subject to any action for civil or criminal liability, damages, abatement, or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to noise generated by the operation of the range if the range remains in compliance with noise control or nuisance abatement rules, regulations, statutes, or ordinances applicable to the range on the date on which it commenced operation.7

For detailed information about government and private party lawsuits against the gun industry, the status of litigation involving gun industry immunity statutes in various states, or pending gun industry immunity legislation, visit the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Gun Industry Immunity page.

See our Immunity Statutes / Manufacturer Litigation policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-173(b)(2). []
  2. Id. []
  3. Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-173(a)(2). []
  4. 560 S.E.2d 525 (Ga. Ct. App. 2002). []
  5. Sturm, Ruger, 560 S.E.2d at 530-32. []
  6. Id. at 530-32. []
  7. Ga. Code Ann. § 41-1-9(c). []