Biden To Gun Manufacturers: I'm Taking You Down
AP Photo/Elise Amendola

During a campaign stop in South Carolina on Monday night, Joe Biden talked up his support for imposing new gun control laws on Americans and vowed to “take down” the nation’s firearms manufacturers as well.

Joe Biden knows it’s do or die time for his presidential campaign. If he doesn’t win the South Carolina primary on February 29th his bid for the White House is over, and it’ll likely be a two-man race between Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg. While the  Bloomberg’s playbook at the moment involves bashing Sanders as some sort of tool of the gun lobby, Biden largely laid off the other candidates in his remarks Monday night. Instead, he took aim at American gun makers.

Biden pointing towards the cameras is a nice touch. If he makes it out of South Carolina, expect a campaign ad with that soundbite airing in Super Tuesday states in an effort to blunt Bloomberg’s strategy of playing up his own anti-gun efforts, though with Biden’s current campaign cash crunch, the ad may only air once or twice. In truth, though, there’s not much difference between the two, especially in their desire to bankrupt the nation’s gun industry and put it out of business.

Both Biden and Bloomberg vow that they will repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a 2005 federal law that prevents firearms manufacturers from being sued for the third party acts of violent criminals, while allowing lawsuits in cases of damages resulting from defective products, breach of contract, criminal misconduct, and negligent entrustment.

Gun control activists have pursued a strategy of bankrupting the firearms industry through litigation since the Clinton administration. In fact, as the Federalist Society points out, the PLCAA is a direct response to the harassment of firearms manufacturers by the administration in the 1990s.

President Clinton infamously strong-armed firearm manufacturers to make them implement changes he could not get through Congress, by threatening and supporting excessive litigation. President Clinton’s HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo warned that if the firearm industry did not negotiate with them, firearm manufacturers would suffer “death by a thousand cuts” from all the lawsuits.

And because of all the lawsuits, many small manufacturers indeed went bankrupt. The legendary Colt’s Manufacturing Company had to stop producing handguns for civilians; unable to get financing because of the overwhelming litigation facing the company. Smith and Wesson, facing dozens of lawsuits from government alone and promised by a government lawyer that “the legal fees alone [will be] enough to bankrupt your industry,” caved into the Clinton Administration’s demands in exchange for immunity from the pending litigation. A company statement explained the agreement was reached to protect the “viability of Smith & Wesson as an ongoing business entity in the face of the crippling cost of litigation.” Trying to coerce Glock Inc. into joining the same agreement, Attorney General Elliot Spitzer promised, “if you do not sign, your bankruptcy lawyers will be knocking at your door.”

It took years from Smith & Wesson’s brand to recover from the damage done by cooperating with the Clinton administration, but if anti-gun Democrats get another crack at litigating the firearms industry out of business, I don’t think they’ll be offering any olive branches for companies that would bend the knee. Instead, they’d love to deliver a knock out blow to the industry, though they’d settle for a “death-by-a-thousand-cuts” strategy to overwhelm the industry with lawsuits. Gun control activists and anti-gun politicians have deeper pockets than the gun industry, and they could bleed the industry dry by pursuing litigation in dozens of jurisdictions across the country.

Here’s the Federalist Society again, this time on what a repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act would mean for the firearms industry.

With the repeal of PLCAA comes the ability to abuse the judicial system in a way that circumvents the Legislative Branch and the will of the American people. Whether it is by unprecedentedly expanding the common law to hold innocent parties responsible for crimes committed solely by others; bankrupting firearm dealers and manufacturers through nuisance suits; or controlling the firearm industry simply through the threat of a crippling onslaught of lawsuits, the repeal of PLCAA represents the creation of the power to coercively litigate a constitutionally protected right into oblivion.

I take Biden at his word when he says he’s going to try to destroy the firearms industry. I just wonder how he expects us to buy a shotgun to defend ourselves if he’s taken down all the gun manufacturers in the country?