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D.C. Court of Appeals Blocks Reckless Lawsuit

Friday, January 11, 2008

On January 10, the District Columbia Court of Appeals found that the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" (PLCAA) blocked lawsuits under D.C.'s "Strict Liability Act." (The court is a local body equivalent to a state supreme court, and different from the U.S. Court of Appeals that overturned the D.C. gun ban last year.) 

D.C.' s law had tried to make manufacturers, importers, and dealers liable "without regard to fault or proof of defect" for illegal use of guns¾a principle rejected by nearly all courts that have ever looked at the issue.  In this case (District of Columbia v. Beretta, U.S.A.), the D.C. government tried to sue to recover health care and emergency services costs supposedly created by criminal gun use in the District.

Calling the District's arguments "imaginative," the court found that D.C.'s lawsuit didn't fall within any of the PLCAA's exceptions for legitimate suits, and that allowing the suit would "frustrate Congress's clear intention" in passing the PLCAA.  The court also found that the PLCAA is constitutional, both in terms of separation of powers and due process. 

The case is a major win for the firearms industry.  It's not yet known if there will be any further appeals.  As always, we'll keep you posted.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.