Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton wants to give big-city politicians and the gun-ban lobby everything they need to sue America’s firearms industry out of business.
Clinton’s campaign website proudly proclaims, “Hillary will lead the charge to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act”—a law passed by Congress to stop the tidal wave of politically motivated lawsuits that threatened to drive American gunmakers, wholesalers and retailers to bankruptcy, even if they didn’t lose a single case in court.
And, as usual, Hillary Clinton lies about the entire issue.
On her campaign website, Clinton shrills that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) is “a dangerous law that prevents victims of gun violence from holding negligent manufacturers and dealers accountable for violence perpetrated with their guns.” A bill that could terrorize America’s arsenal of democracy out of the business of firearms—by bullying or bankruptcy.
And in campaign appearances, Clinton claims the firearms industry is “the only industry in America, the only one, that has this kind of special protection.”
To put it politely, that’s B.S. through and through.
First of all, the law doesn’t protect “negligent manufacturers and dealers.” And Clinton’s claim that the firearms industry is “wholly protected from any kind of liability” is a lie—and Clinton knows it.
A dealer who sells a gun to someone he or she knows is a prohibited person—or even suspects that the person will use it to commit a crime—is not only still negligent, and thus not protected from lawsuits, but is also subject to felony prosecution under federal law.
The PLCAA didn’t change anything in such situations.
What’s more, the firearms industry isn’t “the only business in America” that’s protected by federal law from certain liability lawsuits, as Clinton falsely claims.
Indeed, the Communications Decency Act protects telecom companies from liability. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act protects pharmaceutical companies from liability. A 1994 law protects the manufacturers of small aircraft from liability. And a 1976 law protects the manufacturers of medical devices from liability.
Even the political “fact checker” Politifact.com—whose bias in favor of Democrats has been widely noted—had no choice but to rate Clinton’s claims False. In case you don’t have a Politifact-to-Reality translator, that equates to “liar, liar, pantsuit on fire.”
For those not familiar with the law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act simply said that if a firearm wasn’t defective, and if the manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer broke no law in making or selling it, then they couldn’t be held financially responsible for crimes that they had no part in, and had no reasonable way to anticipate.
Makes sense, right? It’s no different from saying that auto makers and car dealerships shouldn’t be liable for criminals who drive drunk or use cars to commit crimes, if they had no way to reasonably foresee such outcomes.
You wouldn’t think you’d need a federal law to mandate such common sense and justice.
And you wouldn’t expect politicians on Capitol Hill—most of whom are lawyers who should understand such concepts—to block it. But block it they did, for 10 long years, led by the former senate majority leader, Democrat Tom Daschle.
In the meantime, multiple American gunmakers were driven out of business.
It’s not hard to see how: Even if plaintiffs didn’t win a single case in court, the attorneys’ fees and other costs of mounting multiple legal defenses in multiple states—remember, there were dozens of such lawsuits filed—were enough to bring the industrial and economic engine of Second Amendment freedom to a screeching halt. As usual, Hillary Clinton lies about this entire issue.
And that was their strategy from the start. As former HUD Secretary (and current New York Governor) Andrew Cuomo put it, gun manufacturers who refused the Clinton administration’s demands would suffer “death by a thousand cuts.” “If you don’t sign,” New York’s disgraced former attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, threatened Glock, “your bankruptcy lawyers will be knocking at your door.”
In other words, these anti-gun politicians were trying to achieve through lawsuits what they couldn’t achieve through legislation.
The only thing that stopped them was the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, making it the most important federal pro-gun reform of the past 30 years.
And now Hillary Clinton vows to make repealing that law one of her number-one priorities.
Indeed, the two U.S. senators from Connecticut, Democrats Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, have introduced legislation to do exactly that.
Meanwhile, in a Connecticut courtroom, Judge Barbara Bellis has ruled that the PLCAA does not prevent the families of the Sandy Hook victims from suing Remington Arms Co. for selling a rifle that was used in that unspeakable crime—a rifle that was lawfully manufactured, lawfully wholesaled and lawfully sold to a non-prohibited purchaser, but stolen by the murderer.
How could Remington possibly have foreseen such a thing? Obviously, they couldn’t.
But the plaintiffs’ lawyers say that doesn’t matter. Regardless of the PLCAA, and regardless of the fact that the AR-15 is perfectly legal, they say the rifle shouldn’t be sold to the public, and that by doing so, Remington is supposedly liable for the crimes committed at Sandy Hook.
It’s not hard to see what have in mind: They want to intimidate the firearms industry—with fear of potentially bankrupting lawsuits—to stop selling firearms like the AR-15, which despite being the most popular, best-selling rifle in America today, is used in less than 2 percent of all homicides.
If they’re successful, what’s to stop them from using the same absurd legal theory to terrorize the gun industry to stop making handguns—which are used by violent criminals in more than 20 times as many murders as rifles—or, for that matter, to stop producing firearms at all?