by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
As Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders continue to trade blows over who is more equipped to supposedly deliver a knockout punch to the firearms industry, the former vice president has zeroed in on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) — the law preventing frivolous lawsuits that seek to blame members of the firearms industry for the criminal misuse of legal, lawfully sold, non-defective firearms.
Biden is swinging wide to do this, making wild and false claims. Before the debate in South Carolina, he told the state’s gun manufacturers, “I’m coming for you, and I’m taking you down.” He liked the tough talk enough that he reiterated from the debate stage, “And I want to tell you, if I’m elected . . . gun manufacturers, I’m going to take you on and I’m going to beat you.”
Biden’s end goal is ultimately to repeal the 2005 PLCAA. This law, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and signed by President George W. Bush, ended the politically driven lawsuits aimed at bankrupting the firearms industry. Biden and Sanders want to revive the tactic as they pursue the White House, and they’re using disproven and false claims to make their case.
The PLCAA stopped a series of “public nuisance” lawsuits by activist mayors in big cities against firearms manufacturers over the crimes committed by individuals. That law doesn’t grant immunity, but it prevents others from shifting the blame from criminals to a manufacturer. The firearms manufacturer is no more liable for the crime committed by an individual than Home Depot would be if someone committed murder with a hammer.