After being hammered by Hillary Clinton for his vote against a bill that would have allowed victims of gun violence to sue gun dealers, Bernie Sanders will co-sponsor a Senate bill that will allow victims to sue gun manufacturers and gun dealers.
According to a press release from Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s office, The Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act would:
ensure that the victims of gun violence are allowed to have their day in court and that the gun industry – manufacturers, sellers and interest groups – is not shielded from liability when it acts with negligence and disregard for public safety. The bill would repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA)
In 2005, Congress passed PLCAA, which provides immunity in state and federal court from civil liability for manufacturers, distributors, and dealers of firearms, as well as their trade associations, in most negligence and products liability actions. This immunity from liability under well-established common law principles that apply to everyone else in society is unique to the gun industry. As a result, gun makers and sellers have a lesser obligation to act with reasonable care for the safety of the public. It also means that gun sellers can turn a blind eye to straw purchasers or traffickers who may buy hundreds of weapons and traffick them to others with no background check whatsoever. As most gun companies are responsible businesses, this immunity only protects the worst actors in the industry.
Bernie Sanders voted for the PLCAA in 2005, which has led to Hillary Clinton and gun control advocacy groups relentlessly hitting his record on guns in 2016 primary. Sen. Sanders officially added his name as a co-sponsor of the bill on Thursday in an attempt to negate the Clinton attacks on gun control.
As recently as Monday at the CNN Democratic town hall, Sen. Sanders defended his 2005 vote to exempt gun dealers from lawsuits, “It also had a provision in it which says the following – and people may disagree with me, this is my view. Is that if you are a small gun shop in Vermont, and I legally sell you a weapon, OK? You go out, buy that gun legally, and then you go out and kill somebody. I think the gun shop owner should not be held liable to your criminal act. That’s what I believe.”
However one feels about the fairness of the Clinton campaign’s strategy, the reality is that the attacks worked. Sen. Sanders is trying to put the issue to bed by co-sponsoring the Senate legislation.
The Democratic primary campaign has been a fascinating contrast in strategies and the latest move by Bernie Sanders has made the race even more interesting