Skip to content

New Here?

Gov. Newsom Announces New Efforts to Promote Gun Industry Accountability After Landmark Sandy Hook Settlement, Major Progress in TX Supreme Court This Afternoon – Here’s What Else the Biden-Harris Administration, States, Litigators, Attorneys General, and Congress Can Do

February 18, 2022

Today, California Governor Gavin Newsom, along with Attorney General Rob Bonta and Assemblymembers Phil Ting, ​​Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, and Chris Ward, held a press conference to promote a landmark legislative package to make it easier for Californians to hold the gun industry accountable. This latest development follows Tuesday’s announcement that nine families of people shot and killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut reached a $73 million settlement in their lawsuit against Remington, a gun manufacturer which made the firearm used in the shooting. As reported by the New York Times, the settlement “represents a significant setback to the firearm industry because the lawsuit, by employing a novel strategy, pierced the vast shield [the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA] enshrined in federal law protecting gun companies from litigation.” 

Additionally, today, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that, an online ammunition seller, must face a lawsuit brought in part by Everytown Law on behalf of the victims of the 2018 mass shooting at Santa Fe High School, despite arguments made by Luckygunner that PLCAA provided them with immunity.

As you continue to cover the new new developments in efforts to hold the gun industry accountable, here’s what the Biden-Harris Administration, states, litigators, attorneys general, and Congress can do to bring much-needed reform to reckless actors in the industry for their irresponsible sales practices:

Biden-Harris Administration: Rather than relying on private lawsuits and other actors to hold the industry accountable, the ATF must do its job, which is to regulate the firearms industry. That means using all the tools available to prioritize enforcement against irresponsible actors in the gun industry. Holding back when it comes to reining in reckless actors in the firearms industry costs lives. 

Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission should investigate unfair and deceptive marketing tactics utilized by gun manufacturers. Along with Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was shot and killed in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, and Brady, Everytown Law has repeatedly called on the FTC to investigate Smith & Wesson’s advertising and promotion of its M&P line of assault rifles.

States: This past summer, New York enacted legislation which makes clear that gun companies that engage in illegal or unreasonable conduct and thereby create a public nuisance in New York can be sued for it. The bill also requires all gun companies who do business in New York to put in place reasonable safeguards to prevent their guns from ending up in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, subjecting those who fail to do so to civil liability. Lawmakers in New Jersey and California are also considering legislation that will make it easier to hold the gun industry accountable, and they – and state representatives across the country – should move swiftly to enact these common-sense measures. 

Litigators: In 2019, the Supreme Court of Connecticut held that PLCAA does not immunize the gun industry against lawsuits which claim that they violated state consumer protection laws. Already, at least two other courts in different states have cited this Connecticut Supreme Court precedent as a basis to allow lawsuits against the gun industry to go forward. Litigators in additional courts across the country should cite this precedent, and courts should follow it to allow survivors’ claims against reckless actors in the gun industry to proceed. Last summer, Everytown Law launched a new, $3 million litigation fund, designed to support impact litigation that can help advance gun violence prevention. The Everytown Law Fund focuses in part on claims seeking accountability for survivors of gun violence from potentially liable firearm manufacturers, distributors and retailers and claims based on unfair or deceptive marketing and/or sales practices. 

Attorneys General: After New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation making it illegal to purchase parts to manufacture ghost guns, Attorney General Grewal investigated and sued a California-based distributor who continued to sell ghost guns in New Jersey in violation of state law; that lawsuit resulted in a settlement which barred the company from advertising or selling untraceable ghost guns in New Jersey. The New Jersey Attorney General’s office is also investigating safety representations made by Smith & Wesson in its marketing practices, and this summer, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that Smith & Wesson must comply with a subpoena for information about those practices. Last April, the Biden-Harris Administration convened attorneys general from seven states and the District of Columbia to discuss policies and strategies for holding gun manufacturers and dealers accountable for wrongful conduct that contributes to the supply of firearms used to commit gun crimes. State attorneys general should follow the lead of the New Jersey Attorney General and others to investigate reckless and unlawful business practices of the gun industry. 

If you're a member of the media, please send inquiries to [email protected]