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Everytown Applauds House and Senate for Introducing Legislation to Repeal PLCAA –– Helping Hold More Bad Actor Gun Dealers Accountable

April 22, 2021

These Bills would Repeal PLCAA –– a Gun Lobby-Backed Law from 2005 that Gives the Gun Industry Broad Legal Protection and has Enabled Reckless, Negligent, and Outright Dangerous Practices by Bad Actors in the Gun Industry 

WASHINGTON — Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements applauding the introduction of legislation in the House and Senate to repeal PLCAA. The Senate bill is being introduced by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and the House companion bill is led by Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA). 

In 2005, at the strong urging of the gun lobby, Congress passed PLCAA, one of the biggest giveaways to private industry in American history, giving gun manufacturers and sellers more protection from litigation than makers of cars or tobacco products. The NRA celebrated the passage of PLCAA on the day it was signed, calling it the “most significant piece of pro-gun legislation in twenty years.” Repealing PLCAA would hold bad actors in the gun industry accountable to the same rules as every other consumer product industry. A full fact sheet on PLCAA can be found here.  

“PLCAA is a gun lobby giveaway that bars most legal cases against reckless members of the gun industry that refuse to take even the most basic steps to prevent criminals from getting armed,”  said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “If the tobacco industry enjoyed the same protections as the gun industry, Joe Camel would still be pitching cigarettes to kids. This law has fueled America’s deadly gun violence crisis, and we applaud Senator Blumenthal and Representative Schiff for answering President Biden’s call to action and introducing this bill.”

“Repealing PLCAA would hold the gun industry accountable to the same rules as every other consumer product industry, and force reckless gun manufacturers and dealers to adopt safer business practices that would save lives,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “PLCAA is a classic example of politicians prioritizing the gun lobby over public safety, and the fact that the NRA called it the ‘most significant piece of pro-gun legislation in twenty years’ should tell you everything you need to know about why it must be repealed. We are grateful to Senator Blumenthal and Representative Schiff for leading efforts in the Senate and House to do exactly that.”

“Put simply: The bad actors in the gun industry are under-regulated and over-protected,” said Nick Suplina, managing director for law and policy. “Too often, PLCAA is a get out of jail free card for the gun industry, one with deadly consequences. Repeal of PLCAA will help hold bad actors in the gun industry accountable to the same rules as every other consumer product industry.”

This month, President Joe Biden called for Congress to repeal PLCAA during his speech announcing ATF director nominee David Chipman and several life-saving executive actions. President Biden also called on Congress to pass life-saving background check legislation, pass a federal red flag law, close the boyfriend and stalker loopholes by reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, pass a prohibition on assault weapons, and more. Additional key facts about PLCAA are included here and below. 

  • Gun lobby-backed elected officials provided bad actors in the gun industry with unique and broad special protections, placing special interests above public safety.
    • PLCAA gives bad actors in the gun industry broad protection from civil lawsuits, preventing many people injured by guns from holding them accountable in court — even when the business acted dangerously or irresponsibly.
    • For decades, NRA-backed politicians have stopped progress on gun safety and protected bad actors in the gun industry, out of fear of losing money from their gun lobby donors and its corporate backers. At the time PLCAA was passed, an industry insider estimated that corporate gun manufacturers had incurred litigation costs in excess of $200 million — but because PLCAA protects manufacturers from similar costs today, that money can go back into the pockets of politicians in Washington. 
  • Politicians have allowed the gun industry’s bad actors and their irresponsible decisions to get special protections even though they cause gun violence.
    • A person harmed by a consumer product other than guns — like opioids or cars — can generally bring a claim in court to recover damages if they can show the manufacturer designed a defective product or otherwise acted dangerously or irresponsibly. PLCAA is one of the biggest giveaways in American history, giving bad actors in the gun industry more protection from litigation than makers of cars, opioids, or tobacco products.
    • PLCAA too often protects the gun sellers who fuel city gun violence, have poor safety practices or training, or are not willing to use basic security measures. For example, gun sellers who allow unstable individuals or criminals to access guns have gotten special protection, like the seller who let a man wearing only a garbage bag take a gun from his store — and was not able to be held accountable for his actions. 
      • Between 2012 and 2019, nearly 140,000 firearms were reported lost by or stolen from dealers across the country. Some thefts are unavoidable, but PLCAA too often shields gun dealers who’ve taken zero steps to secure their premises when their guns are predictably — and preventably — stolen and then used in crime. 
    • PLCAA often blocks litigation about gunmakers’ dangerous decisions not to include simple safety features that have been available for years, features that could prevent unauthorized access by children and teens. Hundreds of children and teenagers unintentionally shoot themselves or others every year with guns, often when gun owners leave guns within easy reach of children. The gun industry knows it could take steps to design safer firearms — for example, childproofing technologies that would make unintentional shootings less likely — but instead the industry’s irresponsible decisions are too often protected and its bad actors have no incentive to change.
  • The gun lobby has spent decades convincing elected officials to provide its corporate donors with dangerous special protections.
    • Gun lobby-backed politicians have consistently favored their gun lobby donors over the people they represent, creating loopholes for their donors at every turn that put profits over people and safety. 
    • Loopholes and special protections have been put in place that gut strong laws — making gun sales more dangerous, creating loopholes in our background check laws, stopping the wide release of information about which gun dealers supply crime guns, and ensuring that guns are not subject to the consumer protection laws that cover nearly every other product. And one of the most blatant of these special protections is PLCAA — a law that creates a series of loopholes in our legal system to give the gun industry broad protection from liability, all to protect politicians’ donors.

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