Measure sponsored by Sen. Pedersen ensures firearms industry faces consequences for irresponsible practices
OLYMPIA — A bill to ensure that gun manufacturers and dealers — like other purveyors of dangerous goods — must take reasonable steps to prevent their products from getting into the hands of dangerous individuals passed the Legislature today, and now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.
Senate Bill 5078, sponsored by Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, is jointly requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Gov. Inslee. Rep. David Hackney, D-Tukwila, sponsored the companion bill in the House.
The Firearm Industry Responsibility & Gun Violence Victims’ Access to Justice Act ensures that firearms manufacturers and sellers will face liability if they fail to establish, implement and enforce reasonable controls in the manufacture, sale, distribution and marketing of firearms to keep them out of the hands of dangerous individuals.
Changes in federal law since 2005 have shielded the gun industry from liability and barred lawsuits like this one — even when their negligence is provable.
That law, the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), shields gun manufacturers and sellers from liability in some circumstances. However, Congress invited states to regulate firearm sales and marketing practices by exempting such state laws from PLCAA. SB 5078 creates such a law.
“In 2005, Congress took unprecedented action to give gun manufacturers blanket immunity for gun violence perpetrated as a direct result of their marketing and distribution of firearms,” Ferguson said. “Today the Legislature took an important step to right that wrong and protect Washingtonians from gun violence by ensuring that the gun industry faces real accountability when its irresponsible conduct harms our communities.”
“I’m proud that this year we’ve increased accountability among manufacturers and dealers,” Inslee said. “These business entities play a crucial role in keeping our communities safe from gun violence. Thank you to AG Ferguson, the legislators and community organizations who helped pass this bill.”
“Businesses that produce and sell dangerous products have a duty to keep communities safe,” Pedersen said. “SB 5078 will require the firearms industry to do its part to reduce and prevent gun violence by tightening up their compliance with our state laws.”
Four other states — Delaware, New York, New Jersey and California — have adopted similar legislation, and courts have upheld laws that fall under the PLCAA exception allowing for state regulation of firearm sales and marketing.
In the wake of the mass shooting at a Buffalo, N.Y., grocery store in May of last year, the city is suing several gun makers under New York’s law. The New York law, similar to SB 5078, has already survived a challenge in federal court.
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Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.firstname.lastname@example.org
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