Years ago, they promised to kill the Second Amendment with “a thousand cuts,” meaning specious lawsuits.
Back in the mid-1990s through the early 2000s, the anti-gunners of America got what passes–for them–as a bright idea. “I know,” they said, “let’s just get someone with deep pockets to sue gun manufacturers because criminals sometimes use their guns to commit crimes.” Naturally, everyone in America who was not already slavishly devoted to the idea of destroying the Second Amendment saw the idiocy inherent in that. Nobody sues Coors when a drunk runs a stop sign; nobody sues Toyota when its driver rear-ends someone. And, naturally, the anti-gunners went with it anyway.
They sued dozens of manufacturers dozens of times, and they lost each and every suit. They knew that they probably would, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to bankrupt these manufacturers–none of which are on the Fortune 500, mind you–through the cost of litigation. Eventually, Congress stepped in and passed a law called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).
And because Cuomo never met a bad idea he didn’t like, now he’s trying it again.
Gov. Cuomo signed the law after repeating the same debunked talking points churned out by President Joe Biden. Gov. Cuomo claimed the firearm industry is the only industry immune to lawsuits. That myth was so patently untrue that even The Washington Post, Fact Check.org. and Politifact called them “False” in 2015 when failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attempted to pass along the debunked information.
Gov. Cuomo knows this history and the record of courts dismissing these lawsuits before PLCAA was passed with a broad bipartisan consensus in 2005. Gov. Cuomo, when serving as President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, got involved when he organized dozens of local housing authorities to bring their own lawsuits against gunmakers and threatened the industry with “death by a thousand cuts.”
This was his admission these lawsuits lacked legal foundation and amounted to harassment through litigation.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation will challenge to overturn the law signed by New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo that would allow civil lawsuits by municipalities against the firearm industry for the criminal actions by non-associated third parties. The law is in contravention to federal law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), and the legal foundations of tort law.
“This law is unconstitutional, plain and simple. It is abhorrent that Governor Cuomo is rehashing a decades-old failed playbook that was rejected by courts in the 1990’s and early 2000’s,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “Governor Cuomo is, again, blameshifting for his administration’s failures to prevent crime by pointing fingers at firearm manufacturers that have been working with federal, state and local authorities for real solutions. This law is based on the same legal understanding that would allow victims of drunk drivers to sue Ford and Budweiser for the criminal actions of an individual. This law is not legal accountability. It is political posturing.”
The PLCAA does NOT protect manufacturers from suits related to actual defects.
One of the biggest lies that the anti-gun media loves to spread is that the PLCAA exempts manufacturers from being held responsible for faulty products. That is not at all true. When Remington’s Model 700 was shown to have a defect that could result in accidental discharge, a court did indeed hold them responsible.
Legal Professor Victor Schwartz, who literally wrote the textbook on tort law, former law professor and law school dean and the current co-chairman of the Public Policy Group of the law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon, recently authored an op-ed setting the record straight on PLCAA. He wrote, “The PLCAA remains a commonsense law that protects against unsound attempts to change radically a fundamental liability law principle.”
Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, wrote in The Hill of the PLCAA, “The bill saved the industry some litigation costs, but the industry would have prevailed in such actions anyway if they were tried. Product liability and tort actions against manufacturers have uniformly and correctly been rejected by the courts.”
To learn more of the history of PLCAA, what the law does and doesn’t do and other industries with similar protections, read NSSF’s Primer on Repealing PLCAA.
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