Posted on February 12, 2016
Repeal immunity for the gun industry
It’s appalling. Gun manufacturers and gun dealers are the only industries in America that are protected from lawsuits when their products lead to violence and death.
That’s not by accident. The NRA promoted, and Congress passed, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), in 2005. The bill gives legal immunity to the gun industry by preventing lawsuits against gun manufacturers or dealers for negligence that leads to gun-related violence and death.
That kind of one-sided gift to an entire industry could never have been passed if Congress weren’t deeply in the pockets of the NRA. Fortunately, two members of Congress — Rep. Adam Schiff and Sen. Richard Blumenthal — have introduced a bill, the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act, that would repeal this horrible law and allow victims of gun violence to hold gun manufacturers and dealers accountable when their negligence leads to death. We need to do everything in our power to get this law passed.
The immunity that Congress gave the gun industry in 2005 means that victims of gun violence who try to hold gun manufacturers and dealers accountable are punished twice: once when they suffer a tragedy due to gun violence, and then again in the courts.
That’s exactly what happened to the parents of Jessica Ghawi, who was killed in the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater. They filed a lawsuit against Lucky Gunner, the online ammunition dealer that sold 4,000 rounds of armor piercing bullets to the gunman who murdered their daughter. They tried to hold Lucky Gunner accountable for selling ammunition to a person with a violent background, but because of the PLCAA their lawsuit was immediately thrown out. And because of an additional gun industry immunity law in Colorado, they were also forced to pay $203,000 for the company’s attorney fees.
That kind of special treatment exists for no other industry, and for good reason. Our justice system is precisely the forum to decide when and how companies should be made accountable when their products lead to harm, and that process should be available to everyone. It isn’t Congress’s job to decide who’s allowed to pursue justice in our courts — especially if it’s driven by a political desire to reward gun lobbyists with deep pockets.
It’s time to repeal this law and restore gun victims’ access to our justice system so that the gun industry can be held accountable when their negligence leads to violence and death in our communities.