Breaking News Affecting Our Nation's Gun Freedoms and Rights

Anti-PLCAA Bills Introduced in Congress

Adam Schiff talking at a podium about the PLCAA

Dual bills were introduced by gun control advocates in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate that would repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) and subject firearms businesses to frivolous lawsuits by crime victims who seek action against the firearms industry rather than criminals. The NSSF is vigorously opposing this legislation—you should be too!

Adam Schiff talking at a podium about the PLCAAThis isn’t the first time a measure to repeal liability protections for the gun industry has been pursued. Schiff’s first measure was introduced in 2013, and has been repeated at least twice since. None of the measures passed.

Gun control advocates are are emboldened due to what looks like a race by certain political candidates to “out gun control” each other. While they play political games, gun manufacturers face extinction and become victimized. What other industry faces similar punishment for merely being manufacturing a product?

Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act

Sponsors: Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (DCT)

Background:

In 2005, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which provides immunity in both state and federal court from civil liability for licensed manufacturers, distributors, and dealers of firearms, as well as their trade associations, in most negligence and product liability actions. At the time PLCAA was passed, supporters of the legislation stated it was necessary to protect the gun industry from frivolous lawsuits and that victims of gun violence would not be shut out of the courts. Senator Larry Craig, the sponsor of the legislation, stated during debate on the Senate floor that “This bill will not prevent a single victim from obtaining relief for wrongs done to them by anyone in the gun industry.”

This assurance has proven to be false. Numerous cases across the United States have been dismissed on the basis of PLCAA even when the gun makers and sellers acted in a fashion that would qualify as negligent if it involved any other product, and many additional cases have likely not been brought because of the chilling effect of PLCAA’s blanket immunity. PLCAA immunizes the gun industry from their fundamental duty to act with reasonable care towards public safety, empowering the worst actors to act with impunity.

Legislation:

The Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act will repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. It will allow civil cases to go forward against irresponsible actors in state and federal courts, just as they would if they involved any other product. Letting courts hear these cases would provide victims of gun violence their day in court. Additionally, the bill would incentivize responsible business practices that would reduce gun injuries and deaths.

Section-by-Section:

Sec. 1 – Short Title
Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act

Sec. 2 – Repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act

  • Repeals PLCAA’s prohibition on bringing qualified civil liability actions against gun makers, distributors, sellers, or trade associations in state or federal court.
  • The version of PLCAA that was signed into law included two additional sections added through amendment which are not repealed by this bill – Section 5 pertaining to gun storage and safety devices, and Section 6 pertaining to penalties for use of armor piercing ammunition.

Sec. 3 –Discovery and Admissibility of Relevant Gun Trace Data

  • Legislative riders on the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Bill prohibit the discovery and introduction into evidence of ATF gun trace data as part of civil proceedings in state and federal courts. Section 4 repeals this provision so that plaintiffs can subpoena and introduce gun trace data relevant to their case, for example to establish a pattern of negligent behavior on the part of a firearm maker or dealer.

“Responsible actors in the gun industry don’t need this limitation on liability. And the irresponsible ones don’t deserve it,” California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said at a press conference Tuesday.

“All we’re doing through this proposal is giving victims of gun violence their day in court,” said Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, co-sponsor of the bill’s Senate version.

The NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) oppose the bill.

“It’s like blaming Ford or General Motors for the negligent use of their cars,” said Lawrence Keane, senior vice president of government affairs for the NSSF. “It is wrong to hold the gun or any other industry liable for the criminal misuse of non-defective products sold lawfully.”

This isn’t the first time a measure to repeal liability protections for the gun industry has been pursued. Schiff’s first measure was introduced in 2013, and has been repeated at least twice since. None of the measures passed.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which was passed in 2005 and former President George W. Bush signed, blocked civil actions against ammunition and firearm dealers, builders, or trade groups when a firearm is used to commit a crime.

Existing law hasn’t stopped victim advocates from trying to hold gun makers responsible for gun crimes. Connecticut’s Supreme Court ruled in March that Sandy Hook shooting victims’ families could sue Remington Arms. Remington is appealing the ruling.

Will this latest round of gun control measures against the PLCAA in the House and Senate pass? How can we stop this kind of irresponsible legislation attempts? Share your answers in the comment section.

Source: Cheaper Than Dirt

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