Do Gun Makers and Dealers Have a License to Kill?

In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in history, new gun regulations are being considered including a possible repeal of a law that provides special protection to gun manufacturers. Two of the most critical regulations being considered by lawmakers include:

Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act

This law was originally enacted in 2005 to insulate the gun industry from frivolous lawsuits. The law specifically prohibits consumers from bringing forth negligence lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dealers when crimes were committed by third parties with their products. The law was passed after several cities sued gun manufacturers in the 1990s and early 2000s. The NRA pushed for the law and received bipartisan support in Congress.

However, the law does not prevent lawsuits based on product liability claims. Gun manufacturers can still be held liable for defects in their design, such as if the gun misfires or explodes in a consumer’s face when attempting to use it. Lawmakers are currently considering action to repeal the law as part of their broader gun control agenda, including regulating the sale of guns at gun shows and preventing domestic abusers from acquiring guns.

Bump Stock Bans

Another step that gun-control groups have taken is to file a lawsuit against the product manufacturers and sellers of bump stocks. These devices are attached to a semi-automatic weapon to increase trigger pulls to increase the rate of fire. This device was used by the gunman in Las Vegas’ recent mass shooting.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed the lawsuit in Clark County District Court in Nevada on behalf of several shooting victims. It alleges that the leading manufacturer of the devices purposefully misled federal authorities regarding their intended purpose and marketed them to gun enthusiasts who wanted to fire a fully automatic weapon that is more strictly regulated by federal law. While there are currently only three named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the Brady Center is seeking class-action status.

The device replaces the stock and pistol grip. It allows the weapon to fire in a manner similar to a fully automatic weapon. The leading manufacturer of the device was originally intended to assist disabled gun owners, a claim that the Brady Center asserts as misleading and disingenuous. Lawyers in Las Vegas can explain that the manufacturer is not protected by the PLCAA because it does not produce firearms or ammunition.

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