Like any major public health problem, stemming gun violence will require multiple, overlapping strategies. Let me offer another one, overlooked until now, but potentially a dynamo: Repeal the little-known, but pernicious, Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. In other words, reopen the door to lawsuits against gun sellers for wrongful conduct in the design and marketing of their weapons. …

When a state or city can convince a court that an activity threatens the safety of its citizens, it can require the nuisance-causer, like a toxic waste dumper, to stop, and to pay for the cost of clean-up. …

We should care about preserving the right to sue not only for those who are injured or killed, but because litigation is a useful supplement to regulation. Especially for guns, given that regulation is anemic in the first place. Often, defendants will change their behavior—self-regulate, in other words—rather than risk liability. Faced with the public nuisance suits, Smith & Wesson agreed to limit retail customers to no more than one gun within a two-week period and threatened dealers with cancellation of their contracts if “a disproportionate number” of crimes were committed with guns they sold. S&W also began installing safely locks on its weapons. That last bit is particularly important because the Consumer Product Safety Commission is forbidden from regulating firearms. …