Texas Supreme Court: Academy Sports and Outdoors not liable in church shooting

Staff Reports

The Supreme Court of Texas's made decision to protect Academy Sports and Outdoors from liability in the devastating Sutherland Springs church shooting in 2017. Under the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), neither Academy nor any other retail establishment that sells firearms can be sued for damages in tragedies like the Sutherland Springs shooting.  

Under the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), neither Academy nor any other retail establishment that sells firearms can be sued for damages in tragedies like the Sutherland Springs shooting.

Academy followed the law when the shooter, Devin Kelley, purchased the rifle in 2016 at a store location in San Antonio. The store followed federal requirements including a background check when Kelley presented an out-of-state license and address. Although Kelley was disqualified from purchasing because of domestic violence charges and a dishonorable discharge from the Air Force, that information had not been reported to the system when the store ran the background check. A separate lawsuit against the Air Force for failing to collect, handle and report that information remains pending in federal court.  

“There are no words to describe the tragedy that struck the small town of Sutherland Springs in November of 2017 and the irreversible damage to the families and the communities in that area. This opinion does not take away from their grief,” Attorney General Paxton said. “However, holding Academy accountable for this devastation when they followed federal law in this sale would not solve the problem. I will be watching to see how the federal courts handle the Air Force’s shortcomings in this case.”