Among the many things we get asked about, both publicly and by our members, is whether or not we support repealing the PLCAA or not.
In order to answer that question, it’s important to understand what it is, what it isn’t, why it was put in place, and why other industries don’t have anything like it.
Here’s the link:
And here’s the summary from the bill:
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) is a United States law which protects firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable when crimes have been committed with their products.
However, both manufacturers and dealers can still be held liable for damages resulting from defective products, breach of contract, criminal misconduct, and other actions for which they are directly responsible in much the same manner that any U.S.-based manufacturer of consumer products is held responsible. They may also be held liable for negligent entrustment when they have reason to know a gun is intended for use in a crime.
This act has been the target of many politicians on our side of the aisle. The most common claim is some version or another of this:
The gun industry is “the only business in America that is wholly protected from any kind of liability.”
As Politifact noted, this statement is false. You can read in the summary what exactly gun manufacturers are shielded from, which is frivolous lawsuits regarding the criminal misuse of their products.
It is accurate to say that there is no other industry with this kind of protection. There is also no other industry that had been repeatedly sued in frivolous lawsuits over something that someone else did criminally with their product.
To put it into perspective- There have been several horrific events in this country- one of them, in 1993 was the bombing in Oklahoma city by a rightwing white supremacist, used a rental truck from Ryder. It was probably a Ford or a Chevy. There has never been any discussion about suing Ford (or Chevy), nor was there any discussion about suing Ryder for renting the truck to him.
In 2017, a ramming attack happened in Manhattan, killing multiple people and wounding dozens. The truck was rented from Home Depot and was made by GMC or Ford. This time it was an Islamic state terrorist, and again, there was no discussion about suing the company that rented it to him or the manufacturer of the truck.
In contrast to these two events, multiple lawsuits in the early 2000’s were brought against firearm manufacturers for the criminal misuse of their products- in an attempt to bankrupt the industries by pro gun control groups, as they saw it as an opportunity to seriously restrict the new sales of firearms without passing legislation.
And even despite the PLCAA, those groups have still attempted to bring frivolous lawsuits in order to challenge it and bankrupt gun manufacturers.
Gun manufacturers should be treated the same way as other industries in the United States. They should be held liable if they screw up and put out a defective product that hurts someone. Which they are. They should not be held liable if someone buys their product and then uses that product criminally. The PLCAA was passed with a large bipartisan majority in both the house and the senate.
Which was the right thing to do. So, to answer the question, no we do not support repealing the PLCAA. It was needed and is tailored correctly for it’s intended purpose.