Judge Rejects Challenge to Law Allowing Lawsuits Against Gun Industry

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was passed because anti-gunners were trying to sue gun manufacturers for every misdeed someone else carried out with a firearm. There was absolutely no way they were responsible, but the goal wasn’t about responsibility. It was about making it too expensive to sell guns to the general public at all.

So Congress passed a law. 

The PLCAA does have a couple of very narrow exemptions. If your gun blows up on you due to a manufacturer’s defect, that lawsuit can proceed, for example, but you can’t sue them because someone used a stolen gun to shoot your brother.

Yet states have started trying to wiggle around the law with measures of their own, and those measures are being challenged. In Washington, a federal court rejected just such a challenge.

A federal judge on Friday rejected a challenge to a Washington state law that cleared the way for lawsuits against the gun industry in certain cases.
The measure was one of three bills signed by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee last year seeking to address gun violence.
It requires the industry to exercise reasonable controls in making, selling and marketing weapons, including steps to keep guns from being sold to people known to be dangerous or to straw buyers. It allows the attorney general or private parties, such as the family members of shooting victims, to sue for violations or damages under the state’s Consumer Protection Act.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association, challenged the law in U.S. District Court in Spokane, saying the measure violates the Second Amendment as well as the free-speech rights of its members.
U.S. District Judge Mary K. Dimke rejected the lawsuit in a decision Friday, saying the organization had not established legal standing to challenge the measure. She noted that its members were neither being sued under the law nor had expressed an intent to violate its terms.
“This law protects Washingtonians from gun violence by ensuring that gun industry members face real accountability when their irresponsible conduct harms our communities,” Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who is running for governor, said in a news release.

Except it doesn’t.

Washingtonians’ lives aren’t being threatened by the gun manufacturers or people who’ve seen the gun industry’s marketing. They’re being threatened by criminals using illegally obtained firearms who just wanted a gun.

Gun makers aren’t the ones even selling the guns, but that’s who is targeted with this bill. They sell guns to gun stores or, in the case of a private individual, they route those sales through local FFL holders who conduct all the relevant background checks.

Straw buyers bypass that, but they’re also not as easy to spot as some might like to believe. Some are, but that’s because some people are stupid and make it obvious what they’re doing. Many others know better and so they hide it better.

What this law does is basically puts the onus on gun manufacturers to prove they’ve done nothing wrong. It may not explicitly spell it out like that, but that’s what will happen in court when all the lawsuits start coming in.

What’s curious to me, though, is how the Supremacy Clause supposedly matters to these people when it comes to things like gun control–see the anti-gunners’ reaction to Missouri’s nullification laws, for example–but then think the federal PLCAA’s supremacy is irrelevant.

I suspect this is going to go up the judicial chain and I hope it’s soon smacked down and smacked down hard.


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