Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation Tuesday to hold gun manufacturers liable for crimes committed with their products.
“Responsible actors in the gun industry don’t need this limitation on liability. And the irresponsible ones don’t deserve it,” California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said at a press conference Tuesday.
Victims of gun violence deserve their day in court.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) June 11, 2019
“All we’re doing through this proposal is giving victims of gun violence their day in court,” said Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, co-sponsor of the bill’s Senate version.
The NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) oppose the bill.
“You would no more charge or blame Ford or General Motors for drunk driving accidents,” Lawrence Keane, senior vice president of government affairs for the NSSF, told NPR. “It is wrong to hold the gun or any other industry liable for the criminal misuse of non-defective products sold lawfully.”
This isn’t the first time a measure to repeal liability protections for the gun industry has been pursued. Schiff’s first measure was introduced in 2013, and has been repeated at least twice since. None of the measures passed.
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which was passed in 2005 and former President George W. Bush signed, blocked civil actions against ammunition and firearm dealers, builders or trade groups when a firearm is used to commit a crime.
Existing law hasn’t stopped victim advocates from trying to hold gunmakers responsible for gun crimes. Connecticut’s Supreme Court ruled in March that Sandy Hook shooting victims’ families could sue Remington Arms. Remington is appealing the ruling.
“Every other industry has to pay punitive damages,” continued Blumenthal. “That will provide a powerful incentive as it has done in tobacco, in automobiles, in pharmaceutical drugs, for safer products.”
The bill is called the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act.
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