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Hirono, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Repeal the Gun Industry’s Liability Shield

~ Legislation would give victims of gun violence their day in court and hold manufacturers accountable for negligence ~

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) joined Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), along with 77 members of Congress, in reintroducing the bicameral Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act, legislation to ensure that victims of gun violence have their day in court and that negligent gun companies and gun sellers are not shielded from liability when they disregard public safety. The bill would repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), passed by Congress in 2005, which gives the gun industry a unique and unjustifiable legal liability shield that protects gun manufacturers from lawsuits. 

“For more than 15 years, harmful legislation has protected gun manufacturers from liability, denying victims and survivors of gun violence the opportunity to seek justice,” said Senator Hirono. “As we work to combat our nation’s gun violence epidemic and enact commonsense gun safety laws, the Equal Access to Justice for Victims for Gun Violence Act will help hold gun manufacturers accountable for the death and destruction caused by the weapons they produce.”

When Congress passed PLCAA, its supporters argued that it was necessary to protect the gun industry from frivolous lawsuits, and that victims of gun violence would not be shut out of the courts. In reality, numerous cases around the nation have been dismissed on the basis of PLCAA, even when the gun dealers and manufacturers acted in a fashion that would qualify as negligent if it involved any other product. Victims in these cases were denied the right to even discover or introduce evidence. This legislation allows civil cases to go forward against irresponsible bad actors.

In 2005, the National Rifle Association (NRA) identified PLCAA as their “number one” legislative priority, and the NRA celebrated the passage calling it the “most significant piece of pro-gun legislation in twenty years.” Letting courts hear these cases would provide justice to victims and their families, while creating incentives for responsible business practices that would reduce injuries and deaths. Effectively, the gun industry would once again be subject to the same laws as every other industry, just as it was prior to 2005.

In addition to Senators Hirono and Blumenthal, the legislation is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), John Fetterman (D-PA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Peter Welch (D-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Chris Coons (D-DE).

In the House, the bill is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Janice D. Schakowsky (D-IL), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), David Scott (D-GA), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), André Carson (D-IN), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Judy Chu (D-CA), John Garamendi (D-CA), Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Grace Meng (D-NY), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Don Beyer (D-VA), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Joseph D. Morelle (D-NY), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Sean Casten (D-IL), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Katie Porter (D-CA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Cori Bush (D-MO), Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Nikema Williams (D-GA), Becca Balint (D-VT), Valerie Foushee (D-NC), Maxwell Frost (D-FL), Robert Garcia (D-CA), Brittany Pettersen (D-CO), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

The Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act is endorsed by Brady United Against Gun Violence, Giffords, Newtown Action Alliance, Everytown for Gun Safety, Guns Down America, Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund, and March for Our Lives.

The full text of the bill is available here.

Senator Hirono is a strong advocate for gun safety legislation and has fought to protect victims and survivors of gun violence. Earlier this year, Senator Hirono highlighted the impacts of the 2022 Supreme Court decision overturning New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen and how this decision could impact Hawaii and the increased risk of gun violence in public and private spaces. In October 2022, she joined her Senate colleagues in urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to issue enforcement guidance and clarify the recently finalized Ghost Gun Rule. In July 2022, Senator Hirono emphasized the need to restrict widespread civilian access to military-style assault weapons amid the nation’s gun violence epidemic and in June 2022, Senator Hirono voted to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to take meaningful steps to make communities safer from gun violence.