AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File
As things currently stand, federal law prohibits victims and the family of victims from suing gun stores and firearm manufacturers. The law was passed because it was a common tactic to blame the people who sold the gun for what someone did with it later.
For most of us, the idea of blaming Remington or Glock for a murder makes no sense. The gun isn’t responsible. It would be one thing if the firearm had some catastrophic failure that resulted in death, but that’s different. The maker may well be responsible then.
No, these were lawsuits that existed to punish gun companies for failing to read the minds and predict the future.
It was punishment for existing.
However, it seems that Democrats want to bring those days back.
House and Senate Democrats introduced legislation Tuesday they say will allow victims of gun violence to have their day in court.
The Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act aims to repeal federal protections blocking firearm and ammunition manufacturers, dealers and trade groups from most civil lawsuits when a firearm is used unlawfully or in a crime.
Those protections date to 2005, with the passage of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said since PLCAA became law, state and federal courts have “dismissed numerous cases against the gun industry,” adding that other cases were likely not brought at all.
Schiff, surrounded by members of gun violence prevention groups including Moms Demand Action, Brady and March For Our Lives, said the purpose of the legislation was to “correct the error Congress made” nearly a decade and a half ago.
“Responsible actors in the gun industry don’t need this limitation on liability. And the irresponsible ones don’t deserve it,” Schiff told reporters at the announcement of the bill.
Here’s what Schiff isn’t saying. He’s leaving out that there’s no way for there to be anyone he considers a “responsible actor” because manufacturers don’t sell directly to individuals, for the most part. Further, all sales are required to go through a licensed dealer and the required background check.
Further, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act does not protect anyone who fails to follow the law while selling a firearm. In other words, if a dealer somehow fudges the paperwork so he can sell a gun to someone, only for them to murder someone else, they can be sued for that. The law offers no protection for them.
Nor should it.
However, what the law sought to do was end the punitive efforts of gun control groups who tried to use the courts to bankrupt gun manufacturers for crimes that went well beyond their control. Remington is dealing with this right now, as attorneys are trying to blame them for the Sandy Hook shooting. The reason? Their marketing featured special ops people using these weapons, which appealed to the killer who never even bought the gun. His mother did.
These anti-gunners bent over backward to find a way to blame Remington, but plenty of other companies tout their use by special ops troops to sell goods. That’s never been a problem, so why is Remington dealing with this?
Schiff wants to go back to the days when this was the norm, but he fails to point out a single instance of when Toyota or Ford was sued because of a drunk driver. They have yet to show a single knife manufacturer sued by the family of a stabbing victim. Estwing hasn’t been sued by a survivor of a brutal hammer attack.
It’s only the firearm industry that faces this threat, which is why the firearm industry is the only one who received this protection.
Schiff isn’t doing this out of some noble effort to serve the families of victims. Schiff’s doing this because he knows that if he destroys the firearm industry, he won’t have to worry about destroying the Second Amendment. The right to keep and bear arms means little if you don’t have access to arms in the first place.
That’s the goal of Democrats these days, to either destroy the Second Amendment or to make it worthless.
Now, that’s not to say Schiff’s bill has a hope in hell of going anywhere. While the Senate may make some token moves on gun control, this would be a bridge too far for most. Furthermore, such an effort is guaranteed to motivate both gun owners and the firearm lobby to a profound degree. Republicans would be unseated, and they all know it.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to fight it and fight it hard.