Monday, May 30, 2016

Washington Post: The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act: Facts and policy

Hillary Clinton has castigated Bernie Sanders for voting for a federal statute that she says provides “absolute immunity” to firearms manufacturers. According to Westlaw’s news database, she made the claim on May 15 (reported in the Guardian on May 16); shortly before the April 5 Wisconsin primary (reported in the Guardian on March 29); at the March 6 debate in Flint, Mich.; on “Face the Nation” on Jan. 10; and at the ABC debate in New Hampshire on Dec. 19, 2015.

Her claims must be a surprise to the handgun manufacturer Taurus, which has agreed to pay up to $30 million (plus $9 million in attorneys’ fees) to settle a class action involving allegedly defective Taurus handguns. The class action Carter v. Forjas Taurus, S.A. alleges that some Taurus models fire when they are accidentally dropped. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida has scheduled a July 18 hearing on the proposed class action final settlement; in the proposal, Taurus does not admit the plaintiffs’ factual claims. Further information about the case, including the firearms models and the various procedures for class members, is available here.

As a Yale Law School graduate who served in the Senate and who voted against the proposed statute, Clinton would presumably know the statute’s content. It is difficult to understand why she continues to make inaccurate claims about “absolute immunity.” In this post, I will describe what the statute actually does and the concerns that led to its enactment.

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