Gun Maker Immunity Reconsidered

January 23, 2013
by Sammons & Carpenter, P.C.

Our Atlanta product liability lawyers, like many around the country, have followed the gun control debate that has become particularly heated since the December Newtown shootings. And the national debate on this issue will impact Georgia and Georgia's laws.

California Representative, Adam Schiff, a former prosecutor and member of a Congressional task force on gun violence, said recently that he will introduce a bill in Congress to lift the legal immunity of gun manufacturers and dealers. He has had some success in passing crime related bills, as the President just signed his bill encouraging the collection of DNA profiles of arrested felons. His new bill on immunity is called the Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act, and he believes that Americans have reached a tipping point on gun violence after the Newtown shootings. Currently, there is the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act from 2005 on the books, which gives gun dealers immunity from most product liability and negligence lawsuits. But Representative Schiff says it isn't needed. He said, "Good gun companies don't need special protection from the law. Bad companies don't deserve it." He also noted that other industries do not benefit from protection under the law, and that the gun industry shouldn't be given a blank check. Guns are currently the only consumer product not subject to federal safety regulations, as well.
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His proposal, if passed, would allow federal and state courts to move forward lawsuits that could prove gun manufacturers or dealers were negligent. This would include negligence in failing to protect weapon merchandise and selling guns to convicted felons. Representative Schiff is working with the Brady Center on the legislation. Both he and the Center claim that not only is the current law unnecessary, but that courts have interpreted the law too broadly. The law as applied protects gun sellers from liability when selling hundreds of weapons to dealers who then sell them to customers with no background checks. Representative Schiff says, "When someone makes a dangerous product or acts negligently, they ought to be held liable otherwise it encourages irresponsibility."

As with most of politics, there is another side to this proposal. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is on record as calling the 2005 law "vitally important" and that without it, gun control proponents would "bankrupt the American firearms industry through reckless lawsuits". In a response to Representative Schiff's proposal, NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said it was unfair to hold the gun industry responsible for the actions of criminals.

Atlanta Product Liability Lawyers
If you or a loved one has been injured by a faulty product or a negligent manufacturer, the personal injury lawyers at Sammons & Carpenter may be able to help. Product liability cases are often complex, and this issue of gun manufacturer liability is a potentially evolving area, whether this particular law passes through Congress or not. Call our law office at 404-814-8948 to discuss your potential case, or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form a for a free consultation.

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[Gun image courtesy of Pixabay.com]

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