Legislation would give victims of gun violence their day in court & hold manufacturers accountable for negligence

Friday, June 23, 2023

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley and Senate colleagues today reintroduced legislation that would ensure victims of gun violence in Oregon and nationwide have their day in court and that negligent gun companies and gun sellers are not shielded from liability when they disregard public safety.

The Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act would repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, passed by Congress in 2005, which gives the gun industry a unique and unjustifiable legal liability shield that protects gun manufacturers from lawsuits.

“Gun manufacturers can’t keep getting away with gross negligence when they disregard public safety,” Wyden said. “Victims of gun violence deserve their day in court and Congress should clear that path to justice by revoking the gun industry’s special protections that shield gun manufactures from lawsuits. I’ll fight hard to ensure the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act is passed and signed into law.”

“As we continue to face a nation-wide gun violence crisis, we must ensure that gun companies and gun sellers are held accountable when their negligence costs lives,” Merkley said. “For the sake of all those who have lost loved ones to this tragic epidemic, we must take our pain and grief and turn it into real action, with this and other common-sense gun safety reforms.”

When Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, its supporters argued it was necessary to protect the gun industry from frivolous lawsuits, and that victims of gun violence would not be shut out of the courts. In reality, numerous cases around the nation have been dismissed on the basis of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, even when the gun dealers and manufacturers acted in a fashion that would qualify as negligent if it involved any other product. Victims in these cases were denied the right to even discover or introduce evidence.

To restore balance, the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act would allow civil cases to go forward against irresponsible bad actors.

The legislation was led by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. Alongside Wyden and Merkley, the bill was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tom Carper, D-Del., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., John Fetterman, D-Pa., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Peter Welch, D-Vt., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Chris Coons, D-Del.

The legislation is endorsed by Brady United Against Gun Violence, Giffords, Newtown Action Alliance, Everytown for Gun Safety, Guns Down America, Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund, and March for Our Lives.

The bill text is here.

A web version of this release is here.