In 2005, Congress decided to make America’s love affair with guns legal. By a 65-31 vote in the Senate—that 65 includes 14 Democrats—and 283-144 in the House—a terrifying 59 Democrats went for it—they passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Of course, the PLCAA doesn’t protect lawful gun commerce; it protects gun commerce from the law.
To prohibit civil liability actions from being brought or continued against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms or ammunition for damages, injunctive or other relief resulting from the misuse of their products by others.
Every other kind of industry can be held liable when it fails to make something it manufactures or sells, even something inherently dangerous, safer. Not so when it comes to guns. Which is outrageous.
The late Sen. Ted Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, thundered against it, callingthe PLCAA an “unprecedented interference with the judicial branch of government” that would deny “victims their day in court.”
The legislation derailed pending litigation and all but immunized all gun-related entities.
Echoing the legal assault against the tobacco industry, cases against gun companies ran the gamut from public nuisance suits to complaints blaming gun violence on a “negligent oversupply” of weapons. Few of the suits had progressed far by the time the Republican-led Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA, in 2005.
“The PLCAA basically slowed lawsuits against gun sellers to a trickle,” said Georgia State University law professor Timothy D. Lytton, who wrote a book about gun litigation.
The National Rifle Association, which led the lobbying effort, trumpeted its passage as a death knell for “politically motivated predatory lawsuits.”