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Biden admin wants states to sue gun manufacturers, dealers over gun crimes

Guns for sale at a store. (Nelvin C. Cepeda/TNS)
August 06, 2021

On Thursday, White House officials met with several states’ attorneys general to discuss potential moves they can make to “hold accountable” gun manufacturers and dealers when their firearms end up being used in shootings.

According to USA Today, the hour-long virtual meeting largely focused on the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which gives gun dealers and manufacturers immunity from being held liable when one of their products is used in a crime.

Biden administration officials emphasized that states are given “predicate exception” under the PLCAA, allowing them to create separate laws that could give manufacturers and dealers some responsibility.

“That doesn’t mean that PLCAA still isn’t a significant barrier,” an administration official the outlet. “One of the key things we need to do is repeal it, and we’re still fighting every day for that. But in the meantime, we’re going to be creative about talking to states about how they can use existing law to make policy change.”

The attorneys general who were present on the call include Karl Racine from Washington, D.C., Letitia James from New York, Andrew Bruck from New Jersey, Rob Bonta from California, Josh Shapiro from Pennsylvania, Bob Ferguson from Washington, Maura Healey from Massachusetts and William Ton from Connecticut. There were no Republican attorneys general on the call.

The group met with Domestic Police Council Director Susan Rice, White House counsel Dana Remus and White House Director for Intergovernmental Affairs Julie Rodriguez.

In June, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York signed into law a bill allowing lawsuits against gun manufacturers in an effort to stem the flow of firearms illegally transported into the state.

“Over 74% of all guns recovered from violent crimes and shootings in New York are trafficked in from out-of-state,” Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, D-Albany said in a statement, USA Today reported. “Right now, only one industry in the United States enjoys blanket immunity from civil liability under federal law for negligence in the use of their products: the gun industry.”

Kris Brown, president of the gun-control advocacy group Brady, echoed the lawmaker’s comments.

“Today is a historic day for the people of New York,” Brown said in a statement. “Gun manufacturers, distributors, and dealers should be held responsible when they choose to profit off of the criminal gun market and irresponsibly contribute to gun violence, and, with the passage of this bill, now they can be.”