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Product Liability for Gun Manufacturers: What’s in the Law?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths caused by firearms in the U.S. claim 48.830 lives per year.
Gun Manufacturers Product Liability

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths caused by firearms in the U.S. claim 48.830 lives per year. With such mind-boggling numbers before us, one can only wonder how we can make the numbers drop.

It wasn’t until 2005 that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) was passed, protecting the manufacturers of firearms and dealers from liability if their products were used in a crime. With the passing of the law, the firearm industry acquired the right to be safeguarded against product-related crimes.

Keep reading to see how the law is interpreted today and why your business involving firearms should get gun shop liability insurance.

The Essence of the Gun Manufacturers’ Law

The PLCAA (Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act) exists as a federal-level law. Its purpose is to grant civil immunity to gun dealers and gun manufacturers in particular circumstances. The PLCAA was initiated by Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) in the Senate on the 16th of February 2005.

President George W. Bush signed the act on the 26th of October of the same year, legalizing it as a law. The law doesn’t allow gun dealers and gun manufacturers to be held liable in civil claims, such as wrongful death claims and personal injuries. Yet, the PCLAA does include several exceptions that allow gun violence victims to file a claim.

Some U.S. courts have adopted a broader interpretation of the law, further officiating its reach even in cases of gun violence victims delivering substantial evidence. In the same context, the gun industry has been safeguarded, irrelevant of the number of evidence brought in court. Since 2005, the PCLAA has been adopted into the legislature by 34 states in the U.S.

What Does the Law Say Now?

After passing the law, Americans grew increasingly concerned about the severity of the repercussions on civilians. Before then, whether a by-passer would be shot or a child would lose their life to guns by accidentally shooting a gun or a rifle, civilians could sue the manufacturer and arms dealers and hold them accountable for the lost lives. And almost always, these lawsuits conclude in favor of the plaintiff.

With the PCLAA, arms dealers and gun manufacturers could no longer be sued. Federally licensed gun manufacturers, federally licensed gun dealers, gun importers, and other entities selling, manufacturing, and distributing ammunition are granted civil immunity.

Today, certain parties in the Government are still trying to impose responsibility on the gun industry. For instance, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation enabling California residents, the local governments, and the State to sue gun manufacturers. Legislation AB 1594, compiled by Assemblymembers Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson, Chris Ward (D-San Diego), and Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), allows lawsuits against irresponsible gunmakers and sellers.

Assemblymember Chris Ward states, “This bill is a significant step toward holding irresponsible, reckless, and negligent gun manufacturers, distributors, and sellers accountable. The U.S. has less than 5% of the world’s population, yet we make up nearly a third of the world’s mass shootings. I’m proud to joint-author AB 1594 and support other common sense gun reforms that will help make our communities safer.

Who Can Be Held Liable and What Can Be Done?

Any business entity that manufactures, sells, or distributes firearms can be held liable in the event of wrongdoing. In such a scenario, there are several steps businesses can take to ensure they will not have to close shops.

Since the gun industry can be held liable, gun shops are discovering the importance of insurance. Commercial general liability insurance is a good way for gun shops to distance themselves from possible crimes committed using their products.

Joseph Chiarello & Co: The Gun Shop Liability Insurance You Need

Whether you’re a gun shop owner or a firearm distributor, CGL (Commercial General Liability) is the one insurance policy you can’t be without. We at Joseph Chiarello & Co. understand the importance of gun safety, which is why we made our gun shop liability insurance policy affordable for everyone.

Get in touch, or find us on Twitter — we’re always up for a chat.


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