Bernie Should Apologize For This NRA Vote And Vow To Repeal It
Credit: Gage Skidmore
July 24, 2015

Ho hum. Another day, another mass shooting!

I really, really hate gun crime -- with a passion. I am so damn sick of people being mowed down in my city, often people just watching TV or sleeping in bed when yet another random high-velocity bullet comes through a wall and kills them or their kid.

I expect the wingnuts and Blue Dogs to do the NRA's bidding -- but I don't expect progressive hero Bernie Sanders to do their dirty work.

Cliff Schecter wrote about this last week, and he was immediately attacked for daring to question Bernie's progressive bona fides on gun control:

Sanders was defending his vote for a 2005 law that protected gun manufacturers from lawsuits by victims of gun violence in a manner that big corporations in no other sector of the economy have received. It’s the same law that has prevented parents of the Aurora massacre victims from suing the manufacturer who didn’t think twice about selling 4,300 rounds to James Holmes via the Internet without so much as a cursory check. Whether marketing guns to kids or bullets designed specifically to kill cops, there is no getting around the fact that Sanders joined Blue Dog Democrats and right-wing Republicans in giving arms-dealer conglomerates a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Let's talk a little more about that bill:


But Sanders’ vote for a different kind of pro-gun bill is more puzzling—and profoundly disturbing. In 2005, a Republican-dominated Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). This law doesn’t protect gun owners; it protects gun manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers. The PLCAA was the No. 1 legislative priority of the National Rifle Association for years, because it shields gun makers and dealers from most liability when their firearms are used criminally. It is one of the most noxious pieces of pro-gun legislation ever passed. And Bernie Sanders voted for it. (Sanders’ campaign has not replied to a request for comment.)

Because the PLCAA deals with tort law—not a topic of great interest for most Americans—it didn’t stir much outrage when first passed. But the act’s primary purpose is as simple as it is cold-blooded. Every state imposes liability on manufacturers who are negligent in their production and sale of products. If I crash my Prius because its accelerator malfunctions, I can sue Toyota for negligently manufacturing a faulty pedal. If my child dismembers himself with a blender at Sears, I can sue Sears for negligently leaving that blender within a child’s reach. If I get stabbed by a teenager with a switchblade, I might be able to sue the pawn shop owner who illegally sold a knife to a minor.

[...] The PLCAA changed all that. Remarkably, the act wiped out gun liability laws in all 50 states, rendering them invalid except for a handful of narrow exceptions. (So much for states’ rights.) Thanks to the law, victims of mass shootings are barred from suing the companies that produced a wartime weapon that no civilian could ever need. With few exceptions, victims cannot sue a gun seller for negligently providing a semiautomatic weapon to a lunatic who shoots them in a movie theater. Even if a jury decides a gun maker or seller should be liable, the PLCAA invalidates its verdict. The law tramples upon states’ rights, juries’ rights, and fundamental precepts of America’s civil justice system.

And it received Bernie Sanders’ support—in both 2003 (when it was first introduced) and 2005 (when it finally passed).

Every few years, the families of mass shooting victims take gun makers to court for creating a weapon seemingly designed to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible. Every time, they run headfirst into the PLCAA. Right now, the families of Sandy Hook victims are searching for a loophole in the law, so they can sue Bushmaster for making the gun that sent 154 bullets through 20 children and six adults in 264 seconds. They will probably fail.

Several liberal congressional representatives have recently spoken out against the PLCAA, and if Democrats retake both houses of Congress, they may make repealing the law a priority. Hillary Clinton, who voted against the act as a senator, would almost certainly sign a repeal bill. Would a President Bernie Sanders? Until he says otherwise, we have every reason to believe the ostensibleprogressive hero would stand behind the vile legislation he championed just a decade ago.

You know that line that "reasonable" Bernie used in a recent interview? About how we wouldn't sue a company that makes hammers if someone beat you over the head with one?

It's an NRA talking point. You know who else just used it? Louie Gohmert.

Bernie needs to take it back and risk the wrath of the NRA. If he won't, well, he's just another politician.

(Footnote: Looks like I'm not the only one who thinks gun owners should be required to have liability insurance.)

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