Special Protection for the Gun Industry
On October 26, 2005, President Bush signed into law S. 397, the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act,” a bill that prohibits victims of the gun industry’s negligent practices from filing lawsuits in America’s courts. No other industry in the country benefits from such special legal protection.
For years, the negligent practices of some gun makers and sellers have contributed to countless gun deaths and injuries. Beginning in the 1990s, courts began to hold gun sellers and manufacturers responsible for their behavior. Courts found that gun dealers irresponsibly sold to criminals, and that negligent gun makers failed to take basic steps to prevent illegal firearms trafficking by “bad apple” distributors and dealers.
While the National Rifle Association, representing the gun industry, has tried to silence legislators on issues of gun safety, the courts have always been there to stand up for victims of gun violence. Regrettably, the gun lobby was able to close the courthouse door on these victims with S. 397. Because guns are the only consumer product in America not subject to any safety-related regulatory oversight, gun industry immunity has eliminated the only existing check on their unscrupulous actions.
The gun industry immunity law prevents justice for gun victims who are injured in cases like the following, even if the plaintiffs aren’t asking for any money:
- A negligent gun manufacturer designs an assault weapon specifically to appeal to criminals and markets it to them; a would-be criminal chooses that assault weapon and uses it in a murderous rampage resulting in nine deaths in a San Francisco office building. (Merrill v. Navegar)
- A careless gun dealer ignores the frequent “disappearance” of guns from his inventory; one of the hundreds of “missing” guns, which was never reported missing, is used in a terrifying series of deadly sniper attacks in and around Washington, D.C. (Buchanan v. Bulls Eye Shooter Supply, et al.)
- A gun maker that employs known criminals in its production facility fails to monitor its inventory, allowing these employees to leave the plant with several guns that have not been stamped with serial numbers. One of the guns is used in the murder of a 26-year-old man. (Guzman v. Kahr Arms)
Ed Fund Report: Justice Denied: The Case Against Gun Industry Immunity
Editorial: Let Shooting Victims Sue