Whenever a person or organization’s negligence or malevolence result in another person’s injury, that person has the right to file a personal injury lawsuit to recoup damages. One can recoup funds for medical bills, lost wages, diminished earning potential, and even pain and suffering. You probably realize that if a person decides to go shoot up a shopping mall, no one has much of a chance to recover damages.
Sure, you can sue the shooter. But even if the judge decides to award the victims restitution, the chances that they ever receive it are slim to none. People don’t transform into mass murderers because they’re rich, fat, and happy. They transform into mass murderers when they’re poor, skinny, and mentally disturbed.
One would think victims should find some compensation from the manufacturers of those guns — after all, the tobacco industry was forced to change many of its standard operating procedures after a series of huge lawsuits. Why should the gun industry be any different?
But like it or not, it is.
A number of strict rules and regulations protect the gun industry from your personal injury claims, regardless of how you got hurt. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 (PLCAA) effectively provides immunity to the gun industry. Of course, you can technically sue for anything you like if you can find a lawyer to argue your case or are willing to file a small claim yourself. But lawsuits against the big three — dealers, distributors, and manufacturers — are destined to fail.
Judges will dismiss them outright almost 100 percent of the time because of the legal protections granted to that industry. It’s not about right and wrong, it’s just about the law.
Although anti-gun activism seems so huge right now, it really isn’t anything new. In the ‘90s, dozens of cities sued the big three in response to mass shootings in places like Columbine. Those municipalities thought they had a great chance of winning, especially after the successful lawsuits against the tobacco industry.
They failed spectacularly, leading gun rights advocates to push the PLCAA into law. Bush signed the PLCAA in October of 2005. It took only eight minutes to write the law and put it on the books. And those legal protections have guarded the big three from paying out damages ever since.
And there are no signs of cracks in the law. Executive directive for Duke’s Center for Firearms Law Jake Charles said, “I don’t think in the legal world the PLCAA is looked on as just regular legislation. It does seem designed to protect the gun industry in particular.”
Even today, the only way a gun manufacturer can be sued is if they knowingly break the law.