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What is PLCAA?

PLCAA Allows the Gun Industry to Put Profits Over People

In 2005, President George W. Bush signed the top legislative priority of the corporate gun industry into law — the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).

PLCAA significantly contributes to the gun violence epidemic by enabling the gun industry to evade accountability, at the expense of victims of gun violence who are denied their right to hold the gun industry accountable for harm they have suffered. This law was passed in response to cities and individuals challenging the dangerous business practices of firearms manufacturers and retailers.

PLCAA has enabled firearm companies to put profits over people and has created a chilling effect on litigation against the industry, leaving victims and survivors of gun violence without adequate redress for their injuries. PLCAA has also removed key incentives for the gun industry to adopt life-saving business practices and instead has provided cover to irresponsible gun dealers who supply the criminal gun market.

How does PLCAA Work?

Even though PLCAA was not intended to prevent gun industry actors from avoiding accountability for misconduct, the gun industry claims that PLCAA provides it with immunity from civil liability, even where they have caused harm through negligence, defective products, or irresponsible behavior.

At the time PLCAA was before the Congress, lead sponsor and then NRA board member, Sen. Larry Craig, claimed that “this bill will not prevent a single victim from obtaining relief for wrongs done to them by anyone in the gun industry.”

Many courts have misread and misapplied the law as providing overly broad protections to the gun industry. Specifically, except for narrow exceptions, PLCAA has prohibited proceedings against manufacturers or sellers for relief related to the criminal or unlawful misuse of a firearm.

Negligence is the most fundamental principle of civil justice in our legal system — it requires everyone in society to use reasonable care to not expose others to harm and holds them accountable when they cause harm by engaging in unreasonably dangerous conduct. Every business and person in America can be held accountable for their negligence — except the gun industry under some courts’ interpretation of PLCAA.

Why is PLCAA Dangerous?

What is Being Done in Response to PLCAA?

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA), Dwight Evans (D-PA), and Jason Crow (D-CO) have introduced the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act to repeal PLCAA, ensuring justice for victims and survivors and removing barriers to holding irresponsible gun industry actors accountable.


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