For years, gun control organizations have been seeking to dismantle the bipartisan Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). That’s the crucial federal law that shields firearm manufacturers and sellers from frivolous lawsuits designed to bankrupt law-abiding businesses by blaming them for the criminal misuse of lawfully sold firearms or drive the industry to its knees and impose gun control through court ordered settlements.
It is what former Clinton Secretary of Labor Robert Reich dubbed “regulation through litigation.”
Gun control advocates have unsuccessfully urged Congress to repeal the law, falsely claiming it provides total immunity from all lawsuits, a blatant falsehood regularly repeated by President Joe Biden even though the media has fact-checked him and said it’s not true.
In court, these groups have unsuccessfully challenged the PLCAA’s constitutionality. Attorney General Merrick Garland testified before Congress that the PLCAA was Constitutionally-sound, despite the contrary rhetoric coming from The White House and the gun ban lobby. They continue to ask courts to misapply the law’s exceptions (disproving the total immunity claim).
All these efforts are designed to open up a new floodgate of frivolous litigation against the industry not seen since the late 1990s and early 2000s. It was exactly that kind of litigation the bipartisan PLCAA prevents.
Now, the enemies of the Second Amendment have opened up a new line of attack on the PLCAA. Surreptitiously led by the Bloomberg-funded Everytown for Gun Safety, they have convinced a few “blue” antigun legislatures to pass an unconstitutional “public nuisance” (anti-PLCAA) statute. These statutes attempt an end run around the PLCAA to set the table for a renaissance of reckless lawsuits against members of the industry.
Out of the Shadows
No longer content to be the “man behind the curtain” any longer, Everytown is now stepping into the well of the courtroom to defend its unconstitutional laws. Everytown Law recently filed petitions for three of their staff attorneys to represent Hawaii’s Attorney General Anne E. Lopez, in NSSF’s challenge to Hawaii’s unconstitutional “public nuisance” law. This puts Everytown Law in an active role of defending these unconstitutional laws.
NSSF is committed to preventing Everytown and other gun-grabbing organizations from destroying our industry and with it, the Second Amendment.
In a blatant display of its true intentions, Everytown has now stepped out from behind the curtain and onto center stage to defend Hawaii’s House Bill 426. This legislation seeks to impose vague and unenforceable “reasonable controls” on firearm products produced outside of Hawaii. It grants state officials, organizations, and private individuals the power to unleash civil lawsuits against firearm industry members for the actions of deranged criminals.
Everytown’s court appearance in support of this bill is a glaring confirmation of its active role in undermining the PLCAA and burdening the firearm industry with stifling regulations that threaten the Second Amendment altogether.
This maneuver not only tramples on the rights of responsible gun owners, but also heaves an unfair burden onto small businesses struggling to navigate an already complex legal and economic landscape inherent in operating with a Federal Firearms License (FFL).
Victimizing the Victims
Everytown’s Affirmative Litigation Counsel, Alla Lefkowitz, is pivotal in the group’s campaign against the PLCAA. Formerly associated with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Lefkowitz’s history of spearheading legal action against firearm businesses is alarming.
The infamous case involving the Phillips family is a prime example. The Brady Center urged the family to bring a baseless lawsuit against Lucky Gunner, a firearm business, following the tragic murder of their daughter by a mentally ill criminal in Aurora, Colo., in 2012. Brady urged the family to sue without disclosing that both Colorado law and the PLCAA prevent such civil actions and left the family to fend for itself when its lawsuit predictably failed and, under Colorado law, they were required to pay the defendant’s attorney’s fees.
The result? The Phillips family was left bankrupt. This case underscores how gun control organizations like Everytown and Brady are ready to exploit grieving families’ emotions to advance their ideologies, even at the cost of justice and fairness.
Everytown’s masquerade as a champion of “responsible firearm regulation” is a sham. Their actions speak louder than their hollow words. By actively participating in these “public nuisance” lawsuits and championing laws like Hawaii’s HB 426, Everytown makes plain its intention to undermine the PLCAA and smother the firearm industry with irrational restrictions. Restrictions that only erode the Second Amendment rights of Americans and do nothing to make communities safer. Their track record of manipulating tragic events for their own political gain is morally reprehensible.
True advocates for responsible firearm ownership must critically examine Everytown’s motives and actions to ensure genuine safety and justice prevail. Everytown’s tactics prioritize radical politics over the well-being of families and small businesses. It is imperative to unmask these deceitful ploys and stand against any agenda that threatens civil liberties and the integrity of industries that serve law-abiding citizens.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.