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Civil Liability of Gun Manufacturers

When you are the tragic victim of gun violence, often people think that the criminal law is the best way to remedy the situation. However, there could be other remedies when you are injured because of the criminal or negligent use of firearms. However, current federal law has a generally disbars suits against firearm manufacturers.

The hallmark piece of legislation, entitled, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, was passed by the 109th Congress in 2005. The Act lists a variety of interesting purposes, including the 2nd Amendment, and the individual's right to keep and bear arms. The purposes section also cites other already-enacted government firearm regulation. It also cites that but for the enactment of the law, that manufacturers could be sued out of existence, and thereby eliminating American's ability to purchase firearms- a fundamental right according to the United States Supreme Court.

Congress even cites the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the 14th Amendment; a Clause rarely ever litigated today, but is a common argument when advocating for economic freedom or choice, or in this case,

As stated above, manufacturers are generally not liable for the use of their firearms used by another person. But, there are some exceptions- both in terms of products liability and within the Act itself.

Exceptions within the Act include, but are not limited to:

1. When a manufacturer (or seller of firearms) knowingly violates applicable state or federal law related to the sale of firearms;

2. When a manufacturer or seller knowingly, or has reasonable cause to believe that the buyer of the firearm was prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm/ammunition;

3. An action for breach of warranty, or breach of contract related to the sale of the firearms.

4. A negligent entrustment provision- if a supplier of the firearm provides use of the firearm to another person, where the seller knows, or reasonably should know the buyer of the product is likely to, and does, use the product in a manner involving unreasonable risk of injury to the buyer, or others.

There is still way to hold those accountable for tragic and malevolent acts of violence. If you or a family member has been injured because of a firearm, please contact Reich & Binstock today.


See District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570

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