President Biden has a strong record on protections against the gun industry, actively working on two significant pieces of legislation. Also, the Biden/Harris campaign prioritized ending gun violence.
First, in 2004, Senator Biden, along with Senator Feinstein, fought against allowing the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban to lapse. However, congress and the Bush administration failed to extend the ban which ended due to the 10-year sunset provision forced into the original law by the pro-gun lobby.
Then, in 2005 Biden voted against S.397, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) passed after successful lobbying by the gun industry. Section 3 of the PLCAA prohibits civil liability action from being brought in any state or federal court against a manufacturer or seller, or any trade association of such manufacturer or seller, of a firearm, ammunition, or a component of a firearm, for damages resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a firearm.
Put simply, the law protects gun manufacturers from being held civilly liable for their products, a protection granted to no other industry. Think of the car industry that is required to issue recalls on defective vehicles and parts. Or consumer products found to be dangerous being recalled from the market. Only the gun industry is completely exempt from such recalls. The PLCAA was also retroactive, requiring pending actions to be dismissed.
There has been only one successful lawsuit in U.S. history against a gun manufacturer. It was won on behalf of a heroic 7-year-old shooting victim, Brandon Maxfield (who became quadriplegic after the incident), and his tenacious attorney Richard Ruggieri who proved an intentional gun defect of the cheap handgun known as the Saturday Night Special.
In a 2004 speech, Senator Feinstein directly referenced Maxfield v Bryco saying, “Brandon Maxfield, a seven-year-old from my state of California, whose case was not frivolous. The jury did not think it was. Without the threat of lawsuits, companies like the one that made the gun in this case will have little incentive to change the design, but this legislation would remove the threat of that suit, depriving Brandon of compensation, but even worse, depriving the public of this key avenue of improving the habits of gun manufacturers.”
The PLCAA was designed to take away this victim’s legal rights. It is notable that Senator Bernie Sanders voted for the gun industry in both cases.
The Biden/Harris campaign promised to fight for protections against the gun industry including implementing assault weapons buy-backs; reducing stockpiling of weapons; closing loopholes around online sales, federal background checks, hate-crime, and fugitive-from-justice rules; reinstatement of Obama’s mental health background checks (that Trump reversed), and many others. You can read the full gun safety plan here.
Chicago native Lorraine Evanoff earned her degree in French from DePaul University then became a Certified Financial Manager. She worked as a finance exec in film production for seven years in Paris, then in Silicon Valley during the dot-com era, and later for various Hollywood production companies, notably as CFO of National Lampoon. She is currently living in Los Angeles with her husband.