Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Political Report | Back To The Future: Anti-Gunners Again Look To The Courts With Dollar Signs In Their Eyes

Friday, April 1, 2016

Political Report | Back To The Future: Anti-Gunners Again Look To The Courts With Dollar Signs In Their Eyes

In January, anti-gun members of Congress introduced a bill to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). Hillary Clinton had condemned the PLCAA to position herself to the left of her Democratic primary challenger, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had voted in favor of the law in 2005 as a member of the House of Representatives. Sanders is now trying to protect his left flank by advocating for the PLCAA’s repeal. But to understand why he was right in 2005 and why both he and Clinton are wrong now, a history lesson is in order. 

We all know the sequence of events. A terrible crime committed with a firearm grips the public’s attention. Anti-gunners swing into action to exploit emotions. Sweeping gun-control legislation is introduced in Congress. Media outlets and gun-control groups whip themselves into a frenzy, blaming gun owners, gun sellers and Second Amendment advocates.

The outcome seems preordained. But it’s not preordained, because Americans have elected a pro-gun Congress, and NRA members refuse to be made scapegoats for someone else’s crimes. 

The White House seethes and promises to act without Congress, using every tool at its disposal. Meetings are held, orders are issued and threats are made. Meanwhile, the president’s collaborators in the media, entertainment, academia, law and medicine fall into ranks to support whatever restrictive policies his advisers think will win an advantage. 

If that scenario sounds familiar in the age of Barack Obama, it was equally so during the presidency of Bill Clinton. But Clinton had one tool at his disposal that Obama does not. During the Clinton era, dozens of municipal lawsuits—coordinated by the White House and backed by the threat of federal litigation—were launched specifically as an end-run around Congress. It was a devious plan, and it might have worked. 

The plan’s success, however, was not dependent on the soundness of its legal arguments. The plaintiffs had hoped to persuade courts to hold gun dealers and manufacturers responsible for the acts of third-party criminals who harmed people with the guns the defendants made and sold. They claimed that the making and selling of firearms constituted a public nuisance. The making and selling of guns—the keeping and bearing of which is constitutionally protected—was being portrayed as a legal wrong in itself.  

Imagine that. The making and selling of guns—the keeping and bearing of which is constitutionally protected—was being portrayed as a legal wrong in itself. The legal theory also flew in the face of established principles of tort law, which hold that a person does not have a duty to protect another from the criminal acts of a third person, absent a special relationship between the parties. 

Of course, this was the 1990s, and the legal establishment generally dismissed the notion of any individual right under the Second Amendment. Moreover, government “scientists” at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] were promoting the falsehood that firearms are a disease in need of a “cure.” If the courts could ignore the Second Amendment, they surely could create extraordinary rules of tort liability that applied specifically to gun manufacturers and sellers. 

But winning cases wasn’t really the point. The point was to bankrupt the industry by forcing it to fight dozens of cases in multiple jurisdictions at once or to extort “settlements” in which industry members adopted gun control “best practices” and subjected themselves to the plaintiffs’ oversight. 

And you can be sure that’s exactly what anti-gunners would be doing today if Congress hadn’t stepped in with the PLCAA. Far from creating a special “immunity” for the gun industry, it simply ensures that the industry isn’t treated differently from any other type of business.

Thus it prohibits suits by a person for harms “resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a [firearm or ammunition] by the person or a third party.” 

It does not prevent suits based on violations of law pertaining to the unlawful sale or transfer of firearms to prohibited persons or to product warranty or defect claims. It does not bar claims arising from situations in which “the seller knows, or reasonably should know, the person to whom the product is supplied is likely to, and does, use the product in a manner involving unreasonable risk of physical injury to the person or others.” 

That’s why Sanders was right before he was wrong, and it’s why the PLCAA stands for nothing more than giving members of the firearm industry a fair shake under the law. And that’s also why anti-gunners seek its repeal. Election Day 2016 is our opportunity to remind them just how wrong they are.

TRENDING NOW
“[A]ll We Need You to Do is Give us the Gun”: U.K. Launches National Firearm Surrender Campaign

News  

Monday, May 23, 2022

“[A]ll We Need You to Do is Give us the Gun”: U.K. Launches National Firearm Surrender Campaign

On March 12, a two-week campaign was launched in the United Kingdom to encourage subjects of Her Majesty the Queen to surrender firearms, ammunition, weapons, and any other object even vaguely reminiscent of a gun ...

Choke Point “Lite”

News  

Monday, May 23, 2022

Choke Point “Lite”

Ten years ago, the Obama Administration introduced “Operation Choke Point,” a program to weaponize the banking industry and financial service providers against certain lawful businesses and merchants. Implemented by Eric Holder’s Department of Justice and ...

ATF Partners with Anti-gun Researchers to Expand Agency’s Power

News  

Monday, May 23, 2022

ATF Partners with Anti-gun Researchers to Expand Agency’s Power

On May 17, the Department of Justice announced the release of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives publication titled the National Firearms in Commerce and Trafficking Assessment (NFCTA). The report is the result of the ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

New Jersey: “Mandatory Jail” Bill Scheduled for Senate Hearing Thursday

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

New Jersey: “Mandatory Jail” Bill Scheduled for Senate Hearing Thursday

Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., the Senate Law & Public Safety Committee is scheduled to consider S.513, legislation which would create a rebuttable presumption of no bail for gun offenses.

California: Anti-Gun Bills Eligible for Floor Votes

Saturday, May 21, 2022

California: Anti-Gun Bills Eligible for Floor Votes

On Thursday, both the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees took up their suspense files prior to the fiscal deadline, passing a number of anti-gun bills and one pro-hunting bill. These bills will now be eligible ...

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

News  

Friday, April 1, 2022

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

Half the country will now enjoy the freedom to carry a handgun for self-defense without a permit from the state thanks to the tireless efforts of men and women of the National Rifle Association. 

Alaska: Legislature Fails to Pass Pro-2A Legislation as it Adjourns

Friday, May 20, 2022

Alaska: Legislature Fails to Pass Pro-2A Legislation as it Adjourns

At midnight on Wednesday, the Alaska Legislature adjourned from its 2022 Legislative Session. 

President Donald J. Trump to Address NRA Members at the 2022 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Houston, Texas

News  

Thursday, May 12, 2022

President Donald J. Trump to Address NRA Members at the 2022 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Houston, Texas

Former President Donald J. Trump will headline the 2022 NRA-ILA Leadership Forum on May 27, at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

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.