AR-15 Assault Rifles: On Tuesday, a group of Catholic nuns litigated the board of Smith & Wesson, seeking to compel the firearm company to cease the manufacture, advertising and sales of assault-style rifles linked to mass firings in the United States.
The lawsuit, filed in a Nevada state court, contends that the directors and senior administration of Smith & Wesson purposely placed the company at large legal risk by significantly breaching federal, state, and local laws and failing to reply to lawsuits over mass shootings, Reuters reported.
“These rifles have no purpose other than mass murder,” the nuns said in a statement.
AR-15 assault rifles have been used in several mass firings that have stunned Americans.
The lawsuit states that Smith & Wesson “has enjoyed with abandon the record-breaking profits from its sale of AR-15 rifles, seemingly unfazed by the exponential rise in gun killings and mass shootings operated with its product in the United States.”
According to the New York Times, the nuns are from Adrian Dominican Sisters in Adrian, Mich.
The first page of the lawsuit contains a picture from a mass shooting at a Colorado cinema in 2012 that showed a Smith & Wesson assault rifle on the blood-splattered ground next to pink sandals. Twelve people died and 70 were injured in the attack, Reuters reported.
If fruitful, the lawsuit would hold the company’s managers liable for any costs related with the purportedly illegal promotion of AR-15 assault rifles and any damages would be paid to Smith & Wesson, not the plaintiffs.
Mark Smith, the chief executive and president of Smith & Wesson, said that the nuns were “not interested in the best interests of the company or its stockholders.”
He added, “This frivolous lawsuit is another instance in their long history of attempting to hijack and abuse the shareholder advocacy process to harm our reputation and company.”
Jeffrey Norton, the lead attorney for the nuns’ coalition, said on Thursday that his clients jointly owned more than 1,000 shares of Smith & Wesson.
We are proud to partner with these congregations of Catholic Sisters who have long sought corporate responsibility through their shareholder activism,” Norton said in a news statement on Tuesday.
Lawrence Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade group for gunmakers, labeled the lawsuit as “frivolous” in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
“This same group has been filing shareholder proposals and losing so I guess they’re trying a new tactic,” he told the daily.