, , , , , , , , , ,

A primary D/S/C anti-liberty/gun goal is repeal of the The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901-7903 (2005). It is no coincidence it is being pushed at the same time as H.B.1 and other republic shattering legislation.  Here are the law’s findings:

(a) Findings  Congress finds the following:

(1) The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

(2) The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the rights of individuals, including those who are not members of a militia or engaged in military service or training, to keep and bear arms.

(3) Lawsuits have been commenced against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers of firearms that operate as designed and intended, which seek money damages and other relief for the harm caused by the misuse of firearms by third parties, including criminals.

(4) The manufacture, importation, possession, sale, and use of firearms and ammunition in the United States are heavily regulated by Federal, State, and local laws. Such Federal laws include the Gun Control Act of 1968, the National Firearms Act [26 U.S.C. 5801 et seq.], and the Arms Export Control Act [22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq.].

(5) Businesses in the United States that are engaged in interstate and foreign commerce through the lawful design, manufacture, marketing, distribution, importation, or sale to the public of firearms or ammunition products that have been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce are not, and should not, be liable for the harm caused by those who criminally or unlawfully misuse firearm products or ammunition products that function as designed and intended.

(6) The possibility of imposing liability on an entire industry for harm that is solely caused by others is an abuse of the legal system, erodes public confidence in our Nation’s laws, threatens the diminution of a basic constitutional right and civil liberty, invites the disassembly and destabilization of other industries and economic sectors lawfully competing in the free enterprise system of the United States, and constitutes an unreasonable burden on interstate and foreign commerce of the United States.

(7) The liability actions commenced or contemplated by the Federal Government, States, municipalities, and private interest groups and others are based on theories without foundation in hundreds of years of the common law and jurisprudence of the United States and do not represent a bona fide expansion of the common law. The possible sustaining of these actions by a maverick judicial officer or petit jury would expand civil liability in a manner never contemplated by the framers of the Constitution, by Congress, or by the legislatures of the several States. Such an expansion of liability would constitute a deprivation of the rights, privileges, and immunities guaranteed to a citizen of the United States under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

(8) The liability actions commenced or contemplated by the Federal Government, States, municipalities, private interest groups and others attempt to use the judicial branch to circumvent the Legislative branch of government to regulate interstate and foreign commerce through judgments and judicial decrees thereby threatening the Separation of Powers doctrine and weakening and undermining important principles of federalism, State sovereignty and comity between the sister States.

Quite so.  The law was written to prevent just those abuses, which were, and are, intended to sue every gun, ammunition, and accessory manufacturer out of business, thereby enacting a complete ban of all such goods, a ban in violation of the Second Amendment—and arguably other portions of the Constitution.  It was written and passed because anti-liberty/gun fanatics intended, and intend, to use lawfare to obtain what they cannot obtain through the legislative process, or by amending the Constitution.  Here are the purposes of the law:

(b) Purposes  The purposes of this chapter are as follows:

(1) To prohibit causes of action against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers of firearms or ammunition products, and their trade associations, for the harm solely caused by the criminal or unlawful misuse of firearm products or ammunition products by others when the product functioned as designed and intended.

(2) To preserve a citizen’s access to a supply of firearms and ammunition for all lawful purposes, including hunting, self-defense, collecting, and competitive or recreational shooting.

(3) To guarantee a citizen’s rights, privileges, and immunities, as applied to the States, under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, pursuant to section 5 of that Amendment.

(4) To prevent the use of such lawsuits to impose unreasonable burdens on interstate and foreign commerce.

(5) To protect the right, under the First Amendment to the Constitution, of manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers of firearms or ammunition products, and trade associations, to speak freely, to assemble peaceably, and to petition the Government for a redress of their grievances.

(6) To preserve and protect the Separation of Powers doctrine and important principles of federalism, State sovereignty and comity between sister States.

(7) To exercise congressional power under article IV, section 1 (the Full Faith and Credit Clause) of the United States Constitution.

As Attorney and Second Amendment scholar Dave Kopel writes at NRAILA.org, the PLCAA was very much a bipartisan bill:

Enactment: The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in October 2005 by a bipartisan vote of 283 to 144. The measure had passed the Senate in July by a vote of 65 to 31. Senate Democrats who voted in favor were Baucus, Dorgan, Jeffords, Kohl, Landrieu, Lincoln, Nelson (Neb.), Pryor, Reid, Rockefeller, Salazar  and Warner. (Cong. Rec. Page S9396). Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) played a major role in passing the legislation. At the time, Bernie Sanders was a U.S. representative, and he supported the bill.

Most of the states have parallel laws:

Parallel state legislation: When the PLCAA was enacted, 34 states had similar legislation. The state laws are not necessarily exact duplicates of the federal statutes. For example, Colorado provides for an award of attorneys’ fees against plaintiffs who instigate lawsuits in violation of the Colorado statute. In 2015, this resulted in a $200,000 fee award against two Brady Center employee plaintiffs, who were represented by Arnold & Porter.

One might think even if the federal law were repealed, because 34 states have similar laws, the effect would be negligible; the Second Amendment would be safe.  Sadly, not so. The states that do not protect the Second Amendment are primarily red states.  Repeal of the PLCAA would result in a blizzard of lawsuits in those states.  The firearms industry does not have boundlessly deep pockets.  Even if those bringing harassing lawsuits won not a single suit, the costs of defending against those suits would bankrupt the entire industry, gradually, and then suddenly.

Those trying to repeal the PLCAA—surprise!—always lie about it, claiming it immunizes arms manufacturers against all possible lawsuits.  Again, not so.  The PLCAA only prevents harassing suits against manufacturers for making lawful, non-defective, safe products.  They can still be sued under the normal rules of civil law for unsafe and defective products, for breach of contract, and for violating criminal laws, as Kopel notes:

Analogous laws for other industries: Although opponents of the PLCAA assert that its protections are unique, legislatures often enact industry-specific legislation to address problems caused by tort litigation against that industry. For example, a federal statute prohibits all tort lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers. Likewise, a Colorado statute prohibits lawsuits against ski areas for dangers that are inherent in skiing (e.g., hitting a tree). To the extent that prohibition groups misuse the tort system against any industry — especially one that provides products necessary to exercise a constitutional right — legislative intervention is sometimes necessary.

The anti-liberty argument works like this: If I manufacture hammers, and anti-liberty fanatics decide hammers are evil and bad, they would argue they can sue me, the maker of safe, common and non-defective hammers, if a maniac uses one of my hammers to cave in an innocent’s skull.  They would also argue my hammers are so dangerous, they must be banned even if they were not so misused.  Just as with guns, they could band together and launch suits in dozens, even hundreds, of jurisdictions, and I would be run out of business.  I make a lot of hammers, but profit margins are small.  I couldn’t possibly afford to defend against all those suits regardless of the outcome.

Far more people are killed every year by motor vehicles than by firearms.  Shouldn’t they be banned?  If the argument is we must ban things if so doing would save a single life, how is it we’re not all walking?  Obviously, few judges would let lawyers get away with this kind of abuse of the legal system, and keeping and driving motor vehicles is not an express, unalienable right.  Yet a great many leftist judges would invite such abuses where guns are concerned, which is why the PLCAA was passed on a bipartisan basis.  Gun and related manufacturers have always been liable for defective and unsafe products.  The PLCAA prevents only the abuses mentioned in its findings and purposes.

As Kopel also notes, attempts to drive the firearms industry into bankruptcy also have serious national security implications:

When the PLCAA was before Congress, the Department of Defense stated that it ‘strongly supports’ S. 397 because the bill “would help safeguard our national security by limiting unnecessary lawsuits against an industry that plays a critical role in meeting the procurement needs of our men and women in uniform.

Final Thoughts: Sadly, sixteen years have passed since 2005 and much has changed. Democrats that honor the Constitution, that actually love America and think it worthy of preservation, are very much in the minority of their party, and even most of those are more than willing to put party over country where express, unalienable rights are concerned.  If they can pass H.B.1 in the senate, as I noted in article 19 of this series, they would never again need to fear the electorate.  They could not be voted out of office and could do whatever they please.  They would be above the law, mostly because they could ignore it, and care nothing for the will of the people, and even less for the Constitution.  Electorally invulnerable, the courts would mean less than nothing to them, and the Supreme Court would be their play toy.

D/S/Cs are attempting a variety of anti-liberty/gun laws, from bans of entire classes of arms, “buy back”—theft—and registration schemes, “background check” laws, magazine limit schemes, taxes on guns and ammunition that would make gun ownership only possible for the wealthy, and a variety of other unconstitutional and dictatorial schemes, but the attempt to repeal the PLCAA is the most dangerous.  If it succeeds, it would take little time to bankrupt the entire industry.  There would be no new firearms, no parts for repair, and no components for reloading.  Surely, such parts can be made, given the necessary tools, materials and knowledge, but the Second Amendment would be a right on yellowing paper only, a right without application in the lives of Americans, which is precisely what anti-liberty fanatics want.

This alone would be sufficient to spark secession and a second civil war.  People would reasonably and starkly understand, echoing the rhetoric of the Founders–men like Patrick Henry–they would not be stronger in the future; immediate conflict would be a necessity.  It would be necessary to abolish the government and establish one that strictly obeys an even more explicit and stronger Constitution.

Never in history has censorship been pursued by people of good character, good will and with noble intentions.  Never in history has disarming a people been pursued by people of good character, good will and with noble intentions.  The difference is the former destroys the mind and civilized discourse.  The latter destroys the body, the soul and nations.  Our current “leaders” seek to do both.

Those that would disarm us deserve neither our respect, obedience or  kinship.  They care nothing for public safety; they care only about power and wealth.  Their intentions are evil.  They deserve only our scorn, and bring upon themselves damnation.