Bills Filed to Sink the American Firearms Industry
Democrats on Capitol Hill Thursday debuted bicameral legislation that will open the gun industry to frivolous lawsuits shopped around to activist courts.
Termed the somewhat pearl-clutching "Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act," the measures proposed by U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calf.) and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) do one main thing – kill the bipartisan (even Bernie Sanders voted for it) Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act which was passed by Congress in 2005. Best known as the PLCAA, the law insulates the gun industry – ranging from local gun shops to publicly traded gun makers – against harassing lawsuits designed to bankrupt such companies.
To hear Schiff tell it, to repeal the PLCAA is to zap unique "special privileges and protections" conveyed over a decade ago by Congress to gun makers and sellers.
"This bill would pierce the gun industry’s liability shield by putting an end to the special protections the gun industry receives when they shirk their fundamental responsibility to act with reasonable care for the public safety. Victims of gun violence deserve their day in court," said Schiff in a statement.
The thing is, Schiff and others who have characterized the PLCAA in such a way are dealing in half-truths.
Anti-gun groups who are against PLCAA protections and want it repealed or at least significantly reformed even point out that there are at least a half-dozen different ways to sue members of the gun industry in cases where there is a legitimate liability. For instance, Remington Outdoors in 2018 settled a significant suit brought against it over alleged defects in the Walker trigger used on as many as 7.5 million of their rifles.
"The PLCAA keeps activist lawyers from placing the blame on manufacturers and retailers for the criminal misuse of legal, non-defective firearms that are lawfully sold," – Mark Oliva, NSSF.
We spoke with Mark Oliva, public affairs director of the trade group for the firearms industry, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, about the effort to scrap the industry's protections.
"This legislation is an attempt by gun control Democrats to again circumvent the authority of Congress and pursue legislation through litigation," said Oliva. "Senator Blumenthal and Congressman Schiff know that they cannot pass gun control through the legislative process, so they are attempting to decimate the firearm industry through harassing and baseless lawsuits that would financially bleed these companies. Nothing in their gun control proposals attempts to hold criminals accountable for their actions. That tells you who these elected officials are truly representing when they protect criminals and harass a Constitutionally-protected industry for political gain."
The NSSF has long been working to dispel myths against what the PLCAA does and does not. The law, when adopted 16 years ago, blocked a rolling series of baseless lawsuits orchestrated by the Clinton-era White House and filed by gun control groups that attempted to hold industry companies liable for the criminal acts of third parties. Importantly, at least 33 states had already passed similar laws before the PLCAA was enacted at the federal level.
"The PLCAA keeps activist lawyers from placing the blame on manufacturers and retailers for the criminal misuse of legal, non-defective firearms that are lawfully sold," said Oliva.