By John McClaughry
Back in 2005 Congress enacted and President Bush signed the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act.” The act was prompted by an effort by a anti-Second Amendment groups to hold firearms manufacturers. distributors and retailers legally liable for crimes committed by persons using a firearm.
Note that firearm manufacturers like all other businesses have always been legally liable for manufacturing defects in their product. The point of these lawsuits was, frankly, to strangle the firearms industry with thousands of lawsuits charging them with complicity in gun crimes.
It’s like suing Ford Motor Company for providing the car that Bonnie and Clyde used to get out of town after robbing the bank — or, to bring it home to Vermont, to sue a ski manufacturer when a skier veers off the slope and crashes into a tree. Or as Bernie Sanders put it when supporting the protection law in 2005, “If somebody has a gun and it falls into the hands of a murderer … do you hold the gun manufacturer responsible? Not any more than you would hold a hammer company responsible if somebody beats somebody over the head with a hammer.”
When he started running for president again in 2019, Bernie lost his grasp of that principle, and reversed his previous support of the act.
On Feb. 14 President Biden urged Congress to repeal the 2005 act, and Bernie now seems ready to lead the gun control pack.
John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.