American Hunter - December 2020 - 20

First, the immunity provided to
the firearm industry is in no way
unique. Vaccine producers, Internet
platform providers, and small aircraft
manufacturers, to name a few, all
enjoy similar or even more expansive
liability protection under federal law.
Second, firearm businesses remain
fully liable for injuries caused by their
products and not by the criminal actions
of a third party. Suits against the industry for knowingly unlawful sales, negligent entrustment, and those predicated
on traditional product-liability grounds
are all also still permitted.
Legal attacks on the PLCAA
have been no less meritorious, but
they have, unfortunately, seen more
success. While these attacks initially
focused on using one of the PLCAA's
several exceptions to allow limited
cases to proceed, most recently, a
Pennsylvania appellate court ruled
on September 28 that the PLCAA is
unconstitutional.
This sets the stage for a possible
deluge of court cases against
firearms manufacturers and dealers.
The ruling came in the case of
Gustafson v. Springfield, Inc., a
lawsuit that seeks to hold Springfield
Armory and Saloom Department
Store liable for the criminal misuse
of a handgun that Springfield
manufactured and Saloom sold.
Although it is unlikely this ruling
will hold up on appeal, it does
provide a strong argument for the
necessity of the PLCAA, as well as a
bit of irony.
First, the irony.
The lead counsel for the plaintiffs
that filed the lawsuit is Jonathan
Lowy, who also happens to be vice
president of one of America's oldest
anti-gun organizations, the Brady
Campaign. His organization was
founded as the National Coalition
to Control Handguns, and one of its
early leaders, Nelson "Pete" Shields,
made clear the organization's goals.
"The first problem is to slow down the
increasing number of handguns being
produced and sold in this country," he
said. "The second is to get handguns
registered. And the final problem is to
make the possession of all handguns
and all handgun ammunition-except
for the military, policemen, licensed
security guards, licensed sporting
clubs and licensed gun collectors-
totally illegal."

As part of the goal to "slow down"
handgun manufacturers in America,
the Brady Campaign has long been a
driving force behind reckless lawsuits
against the firearm industry.
In January, a lower court correctly
dismissed Gustafson v. Springfield,
Inc., finding that the PLCAA protected
Springfield and Saloom, as neither
had violated any law, and the firearm
was used illegally by a third party.
When the case was appealed, Lowy
argued that the PLCAA itself is
unconstitutional, and his argument
appears to have succeeded, for now.
However, if the latest ruling were to
be upheld, the court's reasoning could
lay the groundwork for overturning
most federal gun-control laws.

POLITICAL ATTACKS
ON THE PLCAA HAVE
CLAIMED THAT IT
PROVIDES "UNIQUE"
PROTECTION TO FIREARM
BUSINESS AND THAT IT
PROTECTS THEM FROM
LIABILITY FOR DAMAGES
FOR WHICH THEY ARE AT
FAULT. THESE CLAIMS ARE
SIMPLY FALSE.
Ironic, no?
The suit claimed the firearm itself,
a Springfield Armory XD-9, was a
"defective handgun" because it did
not include a magazine disconnect,
which would not allow the firearm to
be fired if the magazine is removed.
Not having a magazine disconnect
is not a "design defect," however, as
the suit alleges. Some semi-automatic
firearms have them, and some do not.
For those who desire this feature,
they can purchase a firearm with
it. Those who do not desire it will
purchase those firearms that do
not have them. But the purchaser
knows exactly what he is getting, and
firearm owner's manuals included
with semi-automatic firearms include
warnings that the firearm is capable
of firing without a magazine inserted.
Despite the technology existing
for more than 100 years, magazine
disconnects remain relatively
december 2020   ❘ 

ILAS_1220.indd 20

uncommon. Many gun owners simply
don't want the added complexity
and do want a firearm that's capable
of firing if the magazine is dislodged
during the tense moments of a
defensive gun use.
While suits seeking to have gun
manufacturers add "features" that
gun buyers don't want are common,
the court's reasoning in this case
makes it an outlier.
In order to come to the conclusion
that the PLCAA is unconstitutional,
the three-judge Superior Court
panel ignored or misconstrued
precedent and numerous cases
upholding the constitutionality of
the PLCAA in order to justify their
decision. Reading various passages
of commentary and analysis in the
decision, it would be easy to get the
distinct impression that the panel
was predisposed to come away with
a ruling that could be harmful to the
firearm industry.
It remains to be seen what will
come of this Pennsylvania case.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported,
"Legal experts remained skeptical
that the opinion released Monday
would have far-reaching implications
for potential plaintiffs in other suits-
with some going as far as to describe
the court's reasoning as 'provocative'
and 'aggressive' in a way that would
almost certainly result in an appeal
and likely end up with the decision
being overturned."
Notably, anti-gun organizations
haven't been celebrating the decision
as loudly as one might expect.
Perhaps they realize that nearly all
federal gun laws would be vulnerable
if the court's ruling were to be
applied more broadly.
The case does, however, illustrate
the importance that elections
can play even in a judiciary that
is supposed to be bound by the
law and not partisan or personal
beliefs. And, that's doubly true
in Pennsylvania where judges are
directly accountable to voters.
While we have enjoyed many
pro-Second Amendment wins, this
case makes clear that all of the hard
work that NRA members and other
gun owners put into passing laws like
the PLCAA could be dismantled if we
don't remain vigilant and continue to
work together as the most powerful
grassroots force in America!

20  ❘  americanhunter.org
10/19/20 2:53 PM


http://www.americanhunter.org

American Hunter - December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Hunter - December 2020

Contents
American Hunter - December 2020 - Cover1
American Hunter - December 2020 - Cover2
American Hunter - December 2020 - 1
American Hunter - December 2020 - Contents
American Hunter - December 2020 - 3
American Hunter - December 2020 - 4
American Hunter - December 2020 - 5
American Hunter - December 2020 - 6
American Hunter - December 2020 - 7
American Hunter - December 2020 - 8
American Hunter - December 2020 - 9
American Hunter - December 2020 - 10
American Hunter - December 2020 - 11
American Hunter - December 2020 - 12
American Hunter - December 2020 - 13
American Hunter - December 2020 - 14
American Hunter - December 2020 - 15
American Hunter - December 2020 - 16
American Hunter - December 2020 - 17
American Hunter - December 2020 - 18
American Hunter - December 2020 - 19
American Hunter - December 2020 - 20
American Hunter - December 2020 - 21
American Hunter - December 2020 - 22
American Hunter - December 2020 - 23
American Hunter - December 2020 - 24
American Hunter - December 2020 - 25
American Hunter - December 2020 - 26
American Hunter - December 2020 - 27
American Hunter - December 2020 - 28
American Hunter - December 2020 - 29
American Hunter - December 2020 - 30
American Hunter - December 2020 - 31
American Hunter - December 2020 - 32
American Hunter - December 2020 - 33
American Hunter - December 2020 - 34
American Hunter - December 2020 - 35
American Hunter - December 2020 - 36
American Hunter - December 2020 - 37
American Hunter - December 2020 - 38
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American Hunter - December 2020 - 40
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American Hunter - December 2020 - 42
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American Hunter - December 2020 - 46
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American Hunter - December 2020 - 78
American Hunter - December 2020 - State_1
American Hunter - December 2020 - State_2
American Hunter - December 2020 - 79
American Hunter - December 2020 - 80
American Hunter - December 2020 - Cover3
American Hunter - December 2020 - Cover4
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