The Big Talk on 1037.7FM after 7:11am weekday mornings with Pat Ryan, Michele Jansen and Attorney Clint Barkdoll.
February 16 – After the third anniversary of the Parkland school shooting, the Biden administration is calling on Congress to pass stricter gun laws, including rolling back the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which protects gun manufacturers from lawsuits.
Attorney Clint Barkdoll said this act was implemented in 2005 and it keeps gun manufacturers from being sued by victim’s families. Interestingly, the case everyone is watching happened in Pennsylvania this past December.
“The (Pa.) superior court ruled the federal law was unconstitutional,” Barkdoll explained. “They thought it was a violation of the Commerce Clause.”
A three-judge panel made that decision at the time and now the entire court will be involved.
“There are a lot of eyes around the country that are watching what happens when the full court hears the case,” Barkdoll added.
The case in question involves a teenage boy who was shot and killed when the boy’s friend pointed a handgun at him and pulled the trigger. “The parents said the manufacturer was liable because they should not have included this feature on the gun that allowed someone so easily to get around the child safety lock,” Barkdoll said.
A number of federal legislators are not in support of repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, including Bernie Sanders.
“Could it get repealed through judicial action or could president Biden do executive action to not nullify it but to kind of nibble around the edges of it?” Barkdoll wondered.
The fact that full superior court in Pa. has agreed to hear it could signal that they might be willing to override what the three judges said in December.
Michele Jansen added that the real danger here is the threat to the second amendment.
“What you’re essentially going to do is make people so afraid of the liability issue that it’ll become onerous to be able to get guns, use guns, buy guns, make guns,” Jansen noted. “That’s essentially sort of applying a Jim Crowe Law type of effect…when you put onerous restrictions on something that make people afraid of being able to exercise their rights.”
Barkdoll pointed out that gun manufacturers are saying if they’re held liable, they could go out of business.
“The courts are on a very slippery slope here,” Barkdoll warned. “It could be a real problem.”
Pat Ryan asked will the car manufacturers and liquor industry eventually be put under the same microscope? “Are you going to hold the car manufacturers responsible every time someone gets injured in an accident?”
Barkdoll said while car manufacturers could be sued for faulty equipment, you can’t sue the car manufacturer if someone negligently drives their car and causes damage, although he could see the argument being used in upcoming discussions in court.
Jansen said the need for tort reform is particularly great if these lawsuits keep happening.
“If we don’t have tort reform at the same time we broaden how people are allowed to sue over products, we are in big trouble,” she predicted.