Amy Schumer is angry. She’s angry about the terrorist attack in Orlando, and she’s angry because Congress hasn’t figured out how to keep people from breaking the law.
“I am sickened by the cowardice of these people who are supposed to lead us,” the comedian told Politico. “Their dedication seems to be only to dollar signs for their own pockets. In November, we will remember who stood with the gun lobby, rather than their constituents, as we mourned for Orlando.”
To prove just how angry and sickened she is, she released a video last week that puts the screws Congress for not passing more “common sense” gun control legislation.
The video depicts an injury lawyer, played by H. Jon Benjamin, who explains that he can’t do anything for victims of mass shootings.
“Have you ever been injured in a mass shooting or other gun crime? Do you want justice?” the lawyer asks. “Hi, I’m Toby Shrak of the law firm of Shrak and Murphy, but don’t call me, because there’s nothing I can do.”
The victims then recount their experiences, explaining how they’ve been unable to get justice for themselves or their loved ones because Congress hasn’t passed appropriate gun control legislation.
It’s a brilliant bit, but there’s just one problem: Amy Schumer doesn’t know anything about gun laws.
The first of Congress’s failures she attacks is the oft-repeated lie that the gun industry has special immunity. “It’s not even worth it to try suing gun and ammo manufacturers because the law gives them almost complete immunity from liability,” Benjamin says.
It’s true that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act disallows frivolous lawsuits against the gun industry. But that law was not passed to give the gun industry special immunity. Rather, it was passed to protect the gun industry from costly, pointless lawsuits. The firearms industry is still liable for negligence just like every other economic sector.
For example, as the act itself explains, firearms dealers are expressly prohibited from selling a firearm “when the seller knows, or reasonably should know, the person to whom the product is supplied is likely to, and does, use the product in a manner involving unreasonable risk of physical injury to the person or others.”
The victim in the video complains that she can’t sue a gun manufacturer for allowing its semi-automatic rifle to be “easily” converted into an automatic rifle. This begs the question: If a company’s product is modified before being used to commit a crime, doesn’t that modification absolve the company of wrongdoing? Their product was clearly not designed to operate in that fashion—why should they be held accountable for its use? (Assuming a company can be held accountable for a product’s use.)
The second patently false claim Schumer makes is that a gun seller can’t be sued if they release a gun before a background check is completed. Every gun shop dealer (FFL) – whether at a brick and mortar store or a gun show – has to perform a background check, and they are not permitted to release a gun to a customer until that background check has been completed.
Schumer appears to be referencing the rule that says if the FBI fails to make a determination within three business days, the seller is allowed to release the gun. But she presents the information as if the seller acts negligently and the victim is unable to get justice.
By the end of the video, it’s painfully obvious that Schumer is either intentionally misrepresenting the truth or that she just has no idea what she’s talking about. Maybe, rather parroting Hillary Clinton’s gun control platform, Schumer should have considered doing a bit of her own research into how United States gun law actually works.