Democrats are pushing for to enact The Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act (EAJVGV) which was introduced on 22 January 2013. The Act is sponsored by Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). It will allow civil cases to go forward in state and federal courts against irresponsible actors, just as they would if they involved any other product. Letting courts hear these cases would provide victims of gun violence their day in court. Additionally, the bill would incentivize responsible business practices that would reduce gun injuries and deaths.
If enacted, the Act will repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) which provides immunity in both state and federal court from civil liability for licensed manufacturers, distributors, and dealers of firearms, as well as their trade associations, in most negligence and product liability actions. Senator Larry Craig, the sponsor of PLCAA, stated during debate on the Senate floor that “This bill will not prevent a single victim from obtaining relief for wrongs done to them by anyone in the gun industry.” This assurance has proven to be false. Numerous cases across the United States have been dismissed on the basis of PLCAA even when the gun makers and sellers acted in a fashion that would qualify as negligent if it involved any other product, and many additional cases have likely not been brought because of the chilling effect of PLCAA’s blanket immunity. PLCAA immunizes the gun industry from their fundamental duty to act with reasonable care towards public safety, empowering the worst actors to act with impunity.
Democrats say gun manufacturers and dealers that sell firearms to criminals should be held accountable for mass shootings, but not for selling guns in general. In an interview with The Hill, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said, “If they (gun sellers/manufacturers) are no longer immune, they’ll be more careful who they sell to.” The bill will scrap immunity gun industry enjoys provided by the PLCAA for acting negligently.
The Act is highly unlikely to pass in the Republican-controlled Congress. A bill must be passed by both the House and Senate in identical form and then be signed by the President to become law.
Watch a debate on gun control.