The contempt for law-abiding gun owners in the Empire State is so strong with gun control Democratic state senators that they’ve passed a first-in-the-nation antigun law based completely on a false premise. The facts don’t matter and instead it’s full steam ahead.
Brooklyn Democratic state Sen. Zellnor Myrie could’ve learned from the bruising President Joe Biden received from fact-checkers after falsely claiming the firearm industry “is the only industry in America” that “can’t be sued.”
When it comes to gun control, it’s never about the facts and now Sen. Myrie introduced a state-level bill to remove Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) protections from gun manufacturers in New York.
State of Denial
Democratic officials in New York are constantly trying to out-gun-control the rest of the nation. Whether it’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s attacks on law-abiding gun owners through his NY SAFE Act or shuttering lawful businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, or New York City Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio blaming lawful gun owners wishing to protect themselves rather than criminals perpetrating crimes, the state senate has decided to join in.
Sen. Myrie said, “At a time that gun violence is skyrocketing in Brooklyn and around the nation, we simply cannot afford to let the industry that produces these dangerous weapons off the hook any longer.” He continued, saying it’s a shame federal law “grants only one industry – the gun industry – near blanket immunity.”
Sen. Myrie’s anti-firearm industry legislation is running up against a tight deadline. It just passed the state senate by party-line vote of 43-20, but it must now pass in the state Assembly and also receive Gov. Cuomo’s signature to become law. The legislative session is scheduled to end June 10. Still, facts matter and federal law does not grant “near blanket immunity” to the firearm industry as Sen. Myrie purports.
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) passed with wide bipartisan support and was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2005. The purpose was to stave off lawsuits attempting to hold firearm companies liable for the criminal and unlawful misuse of firearms by criminals and other remote third-parties over whom members of the industry have no control.
The lawsuits were meant to put those companies out of business unless they capitulated and agreed to settlements imposing all manner of gun control measures rejected by Congress and state legislatures. The PLCAA keeps activist trial lawyers and gun control groups from placing the blame on the industry for the criminal misuse of legal firearms that are lawfully sold.
Sen. Myrie’s proposal would be akin to a state allowing a lawsuit to be brought against Ford for the actions of a drunk driver that killed someone after getting behind the wheel.
Firearm manufacturers can, and have, been held accountable under the law of product liability for defective products. The law also doesn’t allow protections against knowing violations of the law and other willful misconduct. This type of tort protection law isn’t unique to the firearm industry.
Vaccine makers produce drugs 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. Tech giants and airlines also enjoy similar protections.
No other industry has ever been blamed for the criminal misuse of its lawfully sold products. The PLCAA is intended to prevent the firearm industry from being singled out.
One provision of Sen. Myrie’s proposal broadens the scope of New York’s “public nuisance law” to include “the sale or manufacture of products that endanger people’s health and safety.” Sen. Myrie may want to reconsider, as according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports there are more murders committed each year in American with knives, fists and clubs than by rifles of all kinds.
This bill is a transparent attempt by New York to regulate the lawful commerce of out-of-state business activities of members of the firearm industry. If an out-of-state dealer legally sells a firearm that is later illegally possessed in New York, under this law the dealer can be sued and dragged into a New York courtroom for allegedly creating, maintaining and contributing to a “public nuisance.”
This is an obvious violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution that gives the power to regulate interstate commerce to Congress.
While Sen. Myrie continues to peddle falsehoods surrounding the firearm industry and the need for his bill, New Yorkers have had enough of the gun control. More than 21 million background checks for the sale of a firearm were processed in 2020 and so far this year the pace has kept up. More than 8.4 million gun owners were first-time buyers as they jumped off the fence to exercise their Second Amendment right. Public polling shows a drop in support for more gun control to the lowest levels in several years.
Gun control politicians like Sen. Myrie and New York state Democratic senators are pushing policies far out of touch with what their constituents want. They’d do better if they listened to them instead.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.