Appeals Court Rejects Gunmaker Protection

A Pennsylvania appeals court ruled a federal law unconstitutional this fall, paving the way for gun manufacturers to be held accountable in Pennsylvania for gun injuries if their weapon is used in a crime, reported an article in Bloomberg Law.

At issue is the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which shields gunmakers from certain lawsuits. The PLCAA prevented one Pennsylvania couple from suing Springfield Armory and Saloom Department Store for a gun injury that resulted in the death of their 13-year-old son. The parents believed the lack of a safety feature on the gun contributed to the accidental shooting. They tried to sue the seller and manufacturer, only to discover that they were not allowed to do so under federal law, reported Fox News.

In the decision, Judge Deborah A. Kunselman wrote that the PLCAA “improperly regulates states’ abilities to apply their respective common laws, in violation of the Tenth Amendment.” In addition, she noted the commerce clause does not apply since neither the victim nor his parents purchased the gun. The appeals court ruled that the couple could proceed with the suit against the manufacturer and seller.

The article noted that the decision will most likely be appealed. In addition, because it was decided by a Pennsylvania court, it only affects gun injuries and gun violence in Pennsylvania. The lawsuit was backed by a pro-gun control group, Brady United. Other groups have fought gun violence via similar suits at the state level throughout the country.

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