Senators Murphy, Blumenthal Introduce Bill to Repeal Gun Industry's Liability Shield | Connecticut Public Radio
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Senators Murphy, Blumenthal Introduce Bill to Repeal Gun Industry's Liability Shield

Jan 28, 2016

Sen. Chris Murphy said the legislation will compel the gun industry to make a safer product.

Connecticut U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy hope to repeal a law that shields the gun industry from liability.

In 2005, when Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCCA, the NRA hailed it as "the most significant piece of pro-gun legislation in 20 years."

Conversely, Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence, calls PLCCA "a truly evil law," and "one of the worst pieces of special interest-backed legislation ever."

The law protects gun manufacturers and dealers from liability when crimes are committed with their product. The law also protects straw purchasers, who buy weapons in bulk, and sell them with or without a background check.

According to the Brady Campaign, five percent of all gun dealers are responsible for 90 percent of all gun crimes because of straw purchases.

Blumenthal has called the gun industry's immunity a "mockery of American justice."

"It prevents somebody from going after truly egregious wrongdoing," Blumenthal said. "The dealer who sells to a known criminal, who then goes out and kills somebody -- that dealer is absolutely immune."

Blumenthal and Murphy are joining other lawmakers in an effort to repeal the law.

Murphy said their legislation, the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act, will not only give victims their day in court, it will compel the gun industry to make a safer product.

"With the industry knowing that they will never ever be on the hook, there is no incentive to ever invest in the kind of rudimentary technology that would assure that firearms are not used in unsafe ways," Murphy said.

PLCCA has become a campaign issue between the two Democratic presidential candidates. Hillary Clinton has criticized Bernie Sanders for voting for PLCCA back in 2005, and said the law should be repealed. Sanders said the law should be modified to allow lawsuits against straw purchasers.