Maryland Democrats Target Gun Industry

AP Photo/Marco Garcia, File

In the mad scramble to pass bills before Maryland's legislative session gaveled to a close Monday afternoon, lawmakers in Annapolis managed to put the screws to the firearms industry. The Gun Industry Accountability Act of 2024 was one of the last bills to win approval before the end of the session, and it is almost certainly going to be challenged in court once its signed by Gov. Wes Moore. 


The bill is similar to other laws already in place in states like New York and New Jersey that seek to get around the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act by allowing the state's Attorney General to file lawsuits based on public nuisance claims against firearm industry members who "knowingly" create, maintain, or contribute to harm to the public through "the sale, manufacture, distribution, importation, or marketing of a firearm-related product". 

The bill also requires those same firearm industry members" to establish and implement certain reasonable controls regarding the sale, manufacture, distribution, importation, marketing, possession, or use of certain firearm-related products", though the bill never details what those "reasonable controls" might be. 

Maryland Shall Issue president Mark Pennak is already warning that the new law will empower the state's AG to blame gun companies for the actions of violent criminals in the state. 

“It allows regulation by lawsuit because what’s reasonable under the totality of the circumstances or what is a reasonable control on the sale of these items is largely undefined,” Pennak said. “It allows suits not only for things that are illegal under other statutes, but it allows suits for something that can be deemed unreasonable by the attorney general or by any one of these counties or the City of Baltimore.”

Pennak said the Gun Industry Accountability Act would allow the same type of public nuisance lawsuits that led Congress to enact the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2005 that protects firearm manufacturers and dealers from liability when crimes are committed with their products.

While Pennak says this law bars these kinds of lawsuits, eight states have recently managed to enact legislation that expands the ability of gun violence victims and public officials to bring civil lawsuits against firearm industry actors for illegal conduct, including nearby Delaware, New Jersey and New York.


Yeah, and every one of those states is firmly in the grips of anti-gun Democrats who'd much rather point the finger at gun companies than the individuals who are actually committing carjackings, home invasions, drive-by shootings, armed robberies, and other violent crimes. 

The goal behind laws like these isn't to make cities like Baltimore safer places, but to destroy the firearms industry and make it impossible for the average resident to exercise her right to keep and bear arms. I'd call it a backdoor attack on our Second Amendment rights, but the lawmakers who were behind the Maryland law were pretty open about their intentions. 

Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher, D-Montgomery and co-sponsor of the Gun Industry Accountability Act, previously described gun manufacturer liability as a “gaping hole” in Maryland law.

“We know that accountability from our courts works to change industries,” Waldstreicher said. “The gun manufacturer industry should not have a special exception.”

The firearms industry is one of the few industries that are singled out for these types of lawsuits, which is precisely why it has the PLCAA to safeguard its existence. Nobody's suing Ford for the actions of a drunk driver, or going after Lowe's or Home Depot for selling burglary tools. If that were the case, we probably would have the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Auto Manufacturing Act or the Home Improvement Protection Act in place. 

I doubt we'll have to wait long to see Brown use this new cudgel against the firearms industry. With Chicago already suing Glock and other blue-state AGs warning the company that they too are prepping lawsuits of their own, Brown is likely to join in the fray once Moore signs the state's latest gun control bill into law. That will provide an opening to challenge the Gun Industry Accountability Act in federal court, but as long as the law is in effect the vague demands that gun makers and sellers adopt "reasonable controls" are going to pose a severe challenge to FFLs in the state... as well as the companies that manufacture the products for sale in their shops. 


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