Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act

Rachel Maddow pointed out last night that some advertising for guns in the US frames it as a matter of combat, and that there is no such thing as “combat” in civilian life.

Her source for the images may have been Mother Jones, which showed us some in 2012:

She went on to point out that normally consumer products that cause death and injury tend to lead to lawsuits, except for this one industry that is protected by law.

Background from the Giffords Law Center:

Civil liability plays an important role in injury prevention. In circumstances where legislators have been unwilling to enact regulations to improve safety, dangerous products and careless industry practices are normally held in check by the possibility of civil litigation that enables injured individuals to recover monetarily. This principle does not apply to the gun industry, however, because it has obtained unprecedented immunity from this longstanding system of accountability.

Immunity statutes grant legal protection to gun manufacturers and dealers, shielding them from liability for a wide range of conduct. Similar immunity laws have been adopted in some form by the federal government and 34 states.

A series of lawsuits in the 1990s held certain members of the firearms industry liable for particularly reckless practices. As a result, the industry began to push legislation in statehouses that limited this avenue of relief. Then, in 2005, after intense lobbying from the gun industry, Congress enacted and President Bush signed a law that gives gun manufacturers and sellers unprecedented nationwide immunity from lawsuits.

In 2005, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA)1, a federal statute which provides broad immunity to gun manufacturers and dealers in federal and state court. Generally speaking, the PLCAA prohibits “qualified civil liability actions,” which are defined as civil or administrative proceedings which “result from the criminal or lawful misuse” of firearms or ammunition.2

Yesterday the Connecticut Supreme Court issued a ruling:

The Connecticut Supreme Court Thursday narrowly reversed a ruling by a lower court judge dismissing a lawsuit by the families of victims of the Sandy Hook shooting against Remington Arms Company, allowing the case to proceed.

In a 4-3 decision the court remanded the landmark gun case back to Bridgeport Superior Court and possibly created a path that other mass shooting victims can follow to get around the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, known as PLCAA, which has protected the manufacturers of the AR-15 assault rifle from lawsuits.

The ruling paves the way for the families to subpoena internal documents on how the gun companies have marketed the AR-15, which has become the weapon of choice for mass shooters. The gun manufacturers have closely guarded information on how they market the assault weapons.

In short: gun companies market their guns as being just the thing for mass shootings, and there is a law protecting them alone among manufacturers from lawsuits. That’s fucked up, as a couple of mosques in Christchurch are the latest reminder.

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