Catholic Sisters Sue Smith & Wesson Over Sale of AR-15 Assault Rifles

Published on December 13, 2023, by Law Office of Matthew L. Sharp


Attorney Matthew L. Sharp is representing a group of activists who are seeking to halt the production, sale, and marketing of AR-15 assault-style rifles in the United States. The lawsuit was filed jointly by a congregation known as Catholic Sisters, made up of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, Sisters of Bon Secours USA, Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, and Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus & Mary, U.S.-Ontario Province.

As shareholders in Smith & Wesson, the Catholic Sisters’ lawsuit seeks to hold the board members liable for their failure to protect the company’s interests. Alleged inactions include the failure to respond to:

  • Recognition as one of the primary suppliers of many mass murderers’ weapon of choice (the AR-15 assault-style rifle).
  • Multiple lawsuits regarding the use of AR-15s in mass shootings.
  • Numerous local and state laws banning the possession or sale of AR-15 rifles.
  • Government investigation into the manufacturing, marketing, and sale of the AR-15.
  • Demand from stockholders that Smith & Wesson examine its practices regarding the manufacturing, marketing, and sale of AR-15 assault rifles.

According to the suit, these failures breached the fiduciary duty that Smith & Wesson owes to its stockholders.

In the U.S., AR-15s and other assault-style rifles have been the primary choice of weapon for mass shootings in recent decades, including the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting that claimed the lives of 12 people and injured 70 others. Despite this, there has been little done to limit access to the sale and possession of AR-15s.

In a statement released by the Catholic Sisters, they “call on Smith & Wesson to return to the practices of its first 153 years of existence when it held itself as a successful beacon of responsible gun ownership and did not manufacture, market, or sell military-grade, mass-killing assault weapons. We pray for an end to the AR-15 mass shootings that have stolen the lives of so many innocent people and devastated communities across the nation.”

The lawsuit was filed in the Eight Judicial District Court in Clark County, Nevada. Law Office of Matthew L. Sharp is handling this complex litigation jointly with Newman Ferrara LLP.