Las Vegas Shooting Victims' Lawsuits Blame Everyone Except Gun Makers

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There are roughly 265 million guns in the U.S. Lawmakers outraged by the protections for gun makers recently launched a new effort to repeal them. Getty Images

The Las Vegas shooting massacre on October 1 so far has spurred at least a half-dozen lawsuits, but gun makers are not among the targets.

Claiming negligence, plaintiffs have sued gunman Stephen Paddock's estate; the hotel from which he fired, the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino; the organizer of the music festival at which he fired, Live Nation Entertainment; MGM; and even bump stock manufacturer Slide Fire Solutions. But gun makers have been left alone because a more than decade-old law has afforded them special protections.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), passed by Congress in 2005, provides gun manufacturers, dealers and distributors with immunity from civil liability in state and federal court. It is unique to the gun industry and trade associations.

Las Vegas massacre plaintiffs may also have lost incentive to try to penalize gun makers because of what families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre went through. They tried to file a lawsuit against a gun company on the grounds that it should not market to the public a firearm designed for combat, but the case was dismissed, and the PLCAA was cited.

Outraged recently launched a new effort to repeal the PLCAA.

Four days after the October 1 Las Vegas shooting that left 58 people dead and more than 500 injured, Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) reintroduced the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act, which intended to remove the liability shield covering gun makers regarding negligence to public safety.

"While not every murderous act can be prevented by any single measure, we should use a comprehensive approach that includes holding the gun industry accountable when it acts negligently, just as we do with other industries," Schiff said in a statement last month.

The legislation that was reintroduced would stop the PLCAA from being "used as a complete barrier to [families'] pursuit of justice," Blumenthal said.

"Our simple measure will give victims of gun violence their day in court and unlock the doors to justice—repealing the sweetheart deal that Congress granted to the gun lobby," he said in a statement.

Supporters of the PLCAA argued when it passed that it was necessary to protect weapons makers from frivolous lawsuits, and that gun violence victims would not be blocked from justice in the courts.

"This bill will not prevent a single victim from obtaining relief for wrongs done to them by anyone in the gun industry," Senator Larry Craig, who sponsored the PLCAA, said during a debate as the legislation was being considered.

But the ordeals of Sandy Hook shooting victims, and now those involved in the Las Vegas massacre, suggest otherwise.

Las Vegas Shooting Victims' Lawsuits Blame Everyone Except Gun Makers | U.S.