Law shields gun makers from lawsuits

Feb. 1, 2013 at 12:41 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Families of victims of mass shootings are being blocked from suing gun makers because of a 2005 federal law heavily pushed by the gun industry, attorneys say.

Prospective lawsuits by parents of children killed in the Dec. 14, 2012, Newtown, Conn., school massacre want to hold gun manufacturers accountable and force them to adopt stricter safety standards, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act bans lawsuits against gun dealers and manufacturers "for the harm caused by those who criminally or unlawfully misuse firearm products."

The law was passed under intense pressure from the National Rifle Association amid a number of lawsuits by city governments that accused the gun industry of crating a "public nuisance" by encouraging the proliferation of weapons.

Pro-gun lobbyists said if the suits were successful they would destroy the industry and endanger Americans' right to bear arms.

The law "makes no logical sense," said Veronique Pozner, the mother of one of the children killed in Newtown. "If their wallets were threatened, they would have a greater interest in making firearms safer."

"It is absolutely outrageous that the gun industry is not accountable when virtually every other industry in this country is accountable," said Marc Bern, an attorney who represents family members of victims of a July 20, 2012, Aurora, Colo., theater shooting.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., has introduced legislation to roll back portions of the law to make lawsuits against the industry easier to file.

Lawrence G. Keane, an attorney who lobbied for passage of the law, says that's not going to happen. Allowing such a lawsuit, he says, "amounts to suing Ford for drunk-driving accidents."

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