NEWTOWN, Conn. — The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®) will challenge to overturn the law signed by New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo that would allow civil lawsuits by municipalities against the firearm industry for the criminal actions by non-associated third parties.
The law is in contravention to federal law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), and the legal foundations of tort law.
“This law is unconstitutional, plain and simple. It is abhorrent that Governor Cuomo is rehashing a decades-old failed playbook that was rejected by courts in the 1990’s and early 2000’s,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “Governor Cuomo is, again, blameshifting for his administration’s failures to prevent crime by pointing fingers at firearm manufacturers that have been working with federal, state and local authorities for real solutions.® This law is based on the same legal understanding that would allow victims of drunk drivers to sue Ford and Budweiser for the criminal actions of an individual. This law is not legal accountability. It is political posturing.”
Gov. Cuomo signed the law after repeating the same debunked talking points churned out by President Joe Biden. Gov. Cuomo claimed the firearm industry is the only industry immune to lawsuits. That worn-out myth was discredited by The Washington Post and Fact Check.org. Politifact called them “False” in 2015 when failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attempted to pass along the debunked information.
Gov. Cuomo knows this history and the record of courts dismissing these lawsuits before PLCAA passed with by a broad bipartisan consensus in 2005. Gov. Cuomo, when serving as President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, got involved when he organized dozens of local housing authorities to bring their own lawsuits against gunmakers and threatened the industry with “death by a thousand cuts.”
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This was his admission these lawsuits lacked legal foundation and amounted to harassment through litigation.
Legal Professor Victor Schwartz, who literally wrote the textbook on tort law, former law professor and law school dean and the current co-chairman of the Public Policy Group of the law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon, recently authored an op-ed setting the record straight on PLCAA. He wrote, “The PLCAA remains a commonsense law that protects against unsound attempts to change radically a fundamental liability law principle.”
Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, wrote in The Hill of the PLCAA, “The bill saved the industry some litigation costs, but the industry would have prevailed in such actions anyway if they were tried. Product liability and tort actions against manufacturers have uniformly and correctly been rejected by the courts.”
To learn more of the history of PLCAA, what the law does and doesn’t do and other industries with similar protections, read NSSF’s Primer on Repealing PLCAA.
NSSF is the trade association for the firearm industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers nationwide. For more information, visit nssf.org.