In 2005, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders voted for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). Hillary Clinton has seized on this vote to paint her rival for the Democratic nomination as “soft on guns.” According to Clinton, the PLCAA is a special interest carve-out preventing the victims of “gun violence” from holding gunmakers legally responsible “when their gun kill our children.”As you’d expect, this “debate” is almost completely fact-free. Here’s what the PLCAA does and doesn’t do [via wikipedia.org] . . .
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) is a United States law which protects firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable when crimes have been committed with their products.
Despite Democratic rhetoric, this is no different from the protections afforded the automobile and pharmaceutical industries. Automakers are not held legally responsible for drunk drivers and drug companies are not responsible for addiction or overdose. If they were, these industries couldn’t afford to produce their goods and services. Period.
Here’s what the PLCAA doesn’t do:
Both manufacturers and dealers can still be held liable for damages resulting from defective products, breach of contract, criminal misconduct, and other actions for which they are directly responsible in much the same manner that any U.S. based manufacturer of consumer products are held responsible. They may also be held liable for negligence when they have reason to know a gun is intended for use in a crime.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) may fine or close a manufacturer for illegal practices, such as the aforementioned distribution to known criminals (excluding guns bought by the U.S. government to distribute to dictators, “freedom fighters,” corrupt police and military forces, etc.) In short, gunmakers are not above the law.
Neither Hillary Clinton nor President Obama nor (now) Bernie Sanders have explained how repealing the PLCAA would prevent “gun violence.” How would crushingly expensive lawsuits against gunmakers stop the illegal use of their products? What could a gunmaker do — that they aren’t doing now — to prevent criminal use?
Smart guns! Repealing the PLCAA would pave the way for the government-enabled shysters to force the firearms industry to only produce guns that won’t fire unless the gun’s [at this point theoretical] on-board electronic system “recognizes” the [presumably] government-authorized user. If your gun isn’t smart we’ll see you in court! Bankruptcy court.
Regardless of the arguments for or against “smart guns,” mandating the technology via the threat of legal action won’t stop criminal use of the gun industry’s products. Setting aside the obvious possibility of hacking or disabling a “smart guns” personalization system, ignoring the idea of off-the-grid “dumb gun” manufacture, there are currently some 300m “dumb guns” in circulation. Their useful life is measured in dozens of decades.
I doubt Democrats have thought that far. (Sorry for laying it out for them but there it is.) All these anti-gun rights politicians know is that their base hears the words “lobby” and immediately accept the idea that the Dems are all that stands between them and an amoral profit-driven conspiracy of one sort or another. Oil lobby! Gun lobby! Hobby lobby! The fact that there’s a law “protecting” the “gun lobby” is proof positive that they’re evil. Ipso facto.
Truth be told, the American firearms industry is already accountable to both government regulation (via the ATF) and the free market (via competition). So what do Hillary Clinton and her anti-gun rights supporters really want from the civilian firearms industry? What does the word “accountable” really mean? To paraphrase the alien in Independence Day, they want it to die. That is all.