Democrats attempt to set legal framework to sue the gun industry out of existence
posted at 9:21 am on January 21, 2016 by Matt Vespa
Well, most of the Democratic 2016 field supports this, as do anti-gun activists, so it’s no surprise that some members of Congress are trying to gut the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2005 (via the Hill):
Gun manufacturers could be sued by victims of gun violence under new legislation from Democrats.
The Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act would roll back long-standing protections enjoyed by the gun industry that shields it from many lawsuits.
The bill would make firearms manufacturers and dealers liable for harm caused by the weapons they sell. The legislation is being circulated on Capitol Hill and could be released later this month, though it is not likely to pass in the Republican-controlled Congress.
“Congress passed a unique form of immunity for only one industry — and that is the gun industry,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told The Hill in an interview.
“If you’re a carmaker and your airbags kill someone, you’re potentially liable,” continued Schiff, one of the lawmakers behind the gun control bill. “If you’re a pharmaceutical company and sell faulty drugs, you can be held liable. If you’re a liquor store and sell alcohol to minors, you can be held liable.”
“Why should it be any different for gun manufacturers?” he asked.
The 2005 law protects the gun manufacturing industry from ridiculous lawsuits. In short, you cannot sue a manufacturer if their firearms are unknowingly used in criminal actions. Now, why is it different for gun manufacturers you may ask, Congressman Schiff. It’s because Remington Arms doesn’t make firearms for criminals, as with any other gun manufacturer, nor do dealers willingly sell to criminals. Those who do are breaking the law. They’re for law-abiding Americans, who constitute the vast majority of gun owners who are exercising one of the oldest civil rights in the country. If their products are unknowingly or unwillingly used in criminal actions, they’re not at fault–and should continue to be shielded from lawsuits stating otherwise.
On the campaign trail in New Hampshire, the prohibitive nominee for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, said, “So far as I know, the gun industry and gun sellers are the only business in America that is totally free of liability for their behavior. Nobody else is given that immunity. And that just illustrates the extremism that has taken over this debate.”
Yeah, that’s nonsense:
“[Clinton’s statement] doesn’t appear to be completely accurate,” said Adam Winkler, professor of law at UCLA and author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, in an email to NPR. “The 2005 law does not prevent gun makers from being held liable for defects in their design. Like car makers, gun makers can be sued for selling a defective product. The problem is that gun violence victims often want to hold gun makers liable for the criminal misuse of a properly functioning product.”
In other words: If you aim and fire a gun at an attacker, it’s doing what it was intended to do. If it explodes while you shoot and hurts you, though, then you can sue the manufacturer. Likewise, if you had told the gun-store owner you planned to commit a crime with that gun, your victim could potentially sue.
However, Clinton “is not totally off base,” said John Goldberg, a professor at Harvard Law School and specialist in tort law. He said Congress was particularly “aggressive” in granting the gun industry this legal shield.
Well, maybe if liberals weren’t so eager to sue the gun industry out of existence and cannibalize scores of jobs in their pursuit to shred the Constitution, then this law wouldn’t be necessary. Regardless, that’s the left’s goal if the PLCAA is undercut, which is why this remains one of the finest pieces of pro-Second Amendment legislation on the books. Heck, even Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist whose economic agenda would cost trillions, agreed that gun manufacturers should have this protection. He voted for the law in 2005.
Silver lining: This bill is dead in the water.