Joe Biden
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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By Larry Keane

There’s a lot of talk from President Joe Biden, antigun politicians and antigun groups about repealing the Federal law that keeps legally frivolous and harassing lawsuits against members of the firearm industry at bay. Much of this talk is based on falsehoods and half-truths, seeking to achieve gun control regulation through litigation and coming from elected officials who are misleading the public to deflect attention from their failure to effectively enforce our nation’s gun laws.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) was passed with wide bipartisan support in 2005 and signed into law by President George W. Bush. The law was passed in response to a wave of lawsuits attempting to hold firearm companies liable for the criminal misuse of firearms by remote third parties.

The lawsuits were really aimed at putting those companies out of business based on circumstances beyond their control. The law – PLCAA – keeps activist lawyers from placing the blame on members of the industry for the criminal misuse of legal firearms that are lawfully sold.

How We Got Here

Lawsuits were piling up in the mid to late 1990’s and early 2000’s when over 40 big city mayors conspired through the U.S. Conference of Mayors with gun control activist lawyers from the Brady Center and greedy trial lawyers. Their plan was to haul firearm manufacturers and sellers into court to make the industry pay for the subsequent criminal misuse of legal, non-defective firearms lawfully sold after a background check to law-abiding Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights.

These lawsuits amounted to suing Ford or General Motors for the harm caused by drunk drivers.

This legal nightmare for the industry began when New Orleans filed suit on Halloween Day in 1998 followed the next day by Chicago’s Democratic Mayor Richard Daley. The last of the municipal lawsuits was filed by then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in June of 2000. All the cities were run by Democrat mayors, except for then-New York City Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani whose case was taken over by Michael Bloomberg when he was elected mayor of the Big Apple.

Even New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was serving as President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, got involved when he organized dozens of local housing authorities to bring their own lawsuits against gunmakers and threatened the industry with “death by a thousand cuts.”

The majority of the states – 33 in all – recognized the misuse of the legal system and passed their own state laws barring these lawsuits from clogging court dockets and attempting to bankrupt companies through legal fees. Congress finally acted.

The bill that would become PLCAA passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives with a lopsided approval of 283-144. The same happened in the U.S. Senate, which passed the measure 65-31. President Bush signed it in 2005.

bush signs plcaa
President George W. Bush signs the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act into law. (White House photo by Paul Morse)

The PLCAA does nothing more than codify black letter tort law. No other industry in America had been so targeted by such baseless, politically motivated lawsuits.

What the PLCAA Does and Doesn’t Do

Since the day it was signed, gun control politicians and anti-gun groups have been doing everything possible to smear the law, willfully ignoring what it does and doesn’t do.

hillary clinton 2016 election surprise horror
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Hillary Clinton, during her failed 2016 presidential campaign, claimed the law gave the firearm industry “absolute immunity.”

That lie was repeated by President Biden during his own campaign and again recently when he pitched a gun control push in Congress. The notion of “blanket immunity” is an outright lie.

Politifact rated Hillary Clinton’s 2016 immunity claims “false” then and they’re still false today. Both manufacturers and firearms retailers can, and are, held responsible for harm caused by defective products, breach of contract, criminal misconduct or other actions of which they are directly responsible. That’s the same liability as any other product manufacturer or seller.

joe biden mask
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The law simply says that these agenda-driven lawsuits can’t be brought against a manufacturer that had nothing to do with the criminal or wrongful misuse of their product.

Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, addressed this in an op-ed for The Hill . . .

Product liability and tort actions against manufacturers have uniformly and correctly been rejected by the courts. Guns are lawful products, and holding companies liable for later misuse of such products is absurd. You might as well sue an axe manufacturer for the Lizzy Borden murders.

Other Industries, Similar Protections

This type of tort protection law isn’t unique to the firearm industry. The recent pandemic is proof of that. Vaccine makers producing the life-saving drugs are doing so with the protection of the 2005 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, which gives the Health and Human Services Secretary authority to provide legal protection to companies making or distributing the vaccines. That protection, like the PLCAA, doesn’t include “willful misconduct.”

Manufacturers of medical devices, the airline industry and even online service and content providers are protected from frivolous lawsuits when defamatory information is posted by others.

The reason PLCAA was signed into law was because Congress knew that antigun politicians were using the courts as an end-round to circumvent the lawmaking process. The irony was elected officials then – and now – oppose PLCAA because it blocked their “attempt to circumvent the Legislative branch of government” and “would expand civil liability in a manner never contemplated by the framers of the Constitution.” Those are actual words within the law.

When President Biden, and his Congressional gun control allies talk about repealing PLCAA, this is what they’re doing in their attack on the firearm industry. They’re also attacking the representation of the people and the Constitution that protects their rights.

 

Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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36 COMMENTS

  1. Ok people, time to draw that “line in the sand”! Dems dont give two sh*ts about the constitution, we have to make them understand that’s wrong thinking!!

    • There’s only 1 way to accomplish that……And right now it’s illegal, but hay there easier on criminals then they are on law abiding Americans!!!

      • Look at Dennis Summer and ‘American Patriot’ showing off the reason why even their families avoid them like the plague. Ain’t no one want to read these limp duck Keyboard Kommando Boasts.

        • “… no one want to read these limp duck Keyboard Kommando Boasts.”

          Well, you sure did.

          See what that says about an impotent, frustrated fvckwit like yourself?

          With you, the hilarity never ends!

          *snicker*… 😉

        • Yeah, I’ve always hated a “limp duck”. Never had much experience with limp dicks, which is what I ASSUME you were trying to refer to, but I’m sure you’re an expert on trying to give and receive limp dicks.

  2. The ‘dic’ tator in chief does not care about lawful commerce. He and his handlers just want to control the subjects of his regime.

    • The dick tator we have now is no different then the dick tator we had.
      Dempublicans or Republicrats.

      I hate niggas, niggas hate me.
      To have it any other just cant be
      With a nik nak paddy wack give a dog a bone.

      To have it any other way would be unity in the United States of America
      The voice of one is many.
      Racism works.
      Divided we fall, united we failed.

      • Please, please, please go die in a shallow ditch, somewhere. The 2A movement has enough issues without “help” from people like you. Don’t go away mad; just GO AWAY. No one cares what you say, except people who can tar this website, and the entire pro-2A movement, with the ravings of dumbs***s like yourself.

    • Rapist Bitme is not in Charge the Nasty Pig Lousi Ice Cream Queen is A recent Photo inside the iron Curtain shows the masked faces of Chinese looking SPF on the walk around And the Ugly Lime green with black leaf ,\pattern Camo isnot US Army BD’s!

  3. Constitutional Carry moved out of sub committee to full committee in Iowa Legislature where it will be quickly passed to a full vote due to the fact “We the People” of Iowa have voted for and elected the Right people to represent Us. With unstoppable Republican control and a Republican Governor who has pledged her support. We could be seeing it passed within next 30 days. Worrying that Liberal Democrats in Washington D.C. are doing what they have always pledged to do is not News. They will do whatever the want regardless of any demands made by Republicans or Law Abiding Citizens as their Tyranny knows no bounds as long as they hold power. The fight for the 2nd Amendment is now in the hands of States Rights and those who have the Courage to Refuse to Comply to their Tyranny. Keep Your Powder Dry.

      • Didn’t lock me in anywhere. Only criminals, Slaves to Think Speak and Cancel Culture Trolls are locked up. Some in jail, Some in Fear and Others trapped in their Childish Minds. Peace Be With You and May You Some Day Be Enlightened by the Truth. For It Will Set You Free.

    • UTAH just passed theirs I Live in S NV and we are pushing the AZ Type CC in session now tho SleezScat want’s Calif Dick Tates,a Article V type review of NRS Constitutions to get rid of the Old tax exempt Mining Laws and gun right laws to restrict CCW and Ban Open Carry in the Illegal closed Sessions going on now,But! God is opening the can of worms since Trump spoke at the CPac Newsome thinks he is Invulnerable he will be forced out of office unless a Political paid off CA Supreme Court Judge denies any hearings for Recall or Impeachmen

  4. If the political tables were turned with the result that conservatives were in the majority (something Trump personally prevented in the most recent election, the worst president for conservative causes that could have possibly been imagined in our darkest nightmares) would conservative lawmakers be so strident about any issue dear to the hearts of the liberal party?

    I’m not sure. But when the tables are turned I certainly expect that to be so. And, I’ll enforce that expectation with my vote.,

      • Well, he could’ve advanced Second Amendment rights for American citizens, as he promised during his campaign.

        Instead, he personally chose to limit the ownership of firearms accessories, and advocated for the destruction of our due process rights.

        “Maybe we should just take the guns first and worry about the courts later…”

        • Minor Annoyance,

          B**** PLEASE!!! DJT was not a 2A champion (and that whole “he campaigned on the 2A” meme is a pathetic lie – but that’s Minor IQ in a nutshell), but ANY suggestion that he was anywhere near as bad as Gropey Joe is stupid, even by your standards. Go get a coherent worldview (I’m told you can buy them on the Dark Web). Don’t bother coming back; we won’t miss you AT ALL.

    • Cool story Share-Blue, because a president Clinton would have totally been great for ‘conservative causes’.

      Of course I’m sure the Child Sniffer & Chief will actually be great for said ‘conservative causes’ in the Mitt Romney sort of way. Which usually ends up being code words for fire-bombing more nations unnecessarily and exporting more industry to China.

    • If by “conservative causes” you mean those which benefit the GOP establishment (and not the rest of us), then yes, I agree. Trump was the worst thing that has ever happened to their causes. They, in turn, were and still are the worst thing that has happened to the rest of us.

  5. Since “Gun Control” in any shape or form is rooted in racism and genocide Gun Control should be as unacceptable as the N word, lynching, slavery, segregation, the KKK, Eugenics and other democRat Party race based atrocities.
    Too many people have no clue how to define Gun Control. If you do not know how to define Gun Control you do not know how to fight Gun Control Zealots and they will chew you up and spit you out. Nothing hits a Gun Control zealot harder than the Truth About Gun Control.

  6. The irony was elected officials then – and now – oppose PLCAA because it blocked their “attempt to circumvent the Legislative branch of government” and “would expand civil liability in a manner never contemplated by the framers of the Constitution.” Those are actual words within the law.

    Unfortunately, that one word made the entire conclusion say the opposite of what was meant.

    With what was meant, I 100% agree. This is yet another unforgivable assault on the Constitution, law-abiding Americans, and the entire notion of law itself by the vile toads who call themselves Democrats. The Democratic party needs to die.

    • singling-out a product like this would just open a can of worms and set a ridiculous precedent…can’t see how it would pass judicial review…

  7. and what are you people commenting gonna do about it? are you gonna rally the companies to join in and fight? no?

  8. Nothing matters to the dems, they don’t care aboujt the bill of rights. The dem party is the communist party. Nothing, nothing short of revolution will stop them. To Quote a late comidian, Omit the logic. The dems have strarted a revolution in America. It’s time to to plan and keep the powder dry.

    • the gun rights people just keep watching the front door….while the gun-grabbers are sneaking in the windows…think it’s pretty obvious what their goal is….

  9. Anyone here ever heard the sound of many many many rounds being fired at targets simultaneously? It is an awesome sound to hear especially when the target is shattered forever!

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