Victor Schwartz Authors Commentary on Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act

In February 25, 2016, commentary for The Wall Street Journal, Shook, Hardy & Bacon Public Policy Co-Chair Victor Schwartz corrects misconceptions about the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which has become a point of contention between Democratic Party presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.). Clinton apparently suggested in a fundraising email that Sanders' support for the law granted firearm manufacturers "legal immunity" from lawsuits, a notion that Schwartz describes as "a fiction."

"Putting rhetoric aside, this much is clear: Traditional liability law still applies to gun manufacturers," writes Schwartz. "The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act specifically states that makers of firearms are liable for any defect in their products, such as if a gun misfires and harms someone, or if it does not work at all and fails at the moment it is lawfully needed."

In particular, the article notes that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act—similar to legislation passed for the aviation, medical device and education sectors—simply clarifies existing law in order to curb "frivolous and agenda-driven lawsuits." As Schwartz notes, "[T]he 2005 law stands for the unremarkable premise that when a business makes or sells a lawful product, but the product is used in an unlawful way, it is not the fault of the maker or seller. It is the fault of the criminal."