Federal gun liability shield law is unconstitutional – Pa. appeals court

Federal gun liability shield law is unconstitutional - Pa. appeals court

(Reuters) – This could be a breakthrough for gun safety advocates: A Pennsylvania appeals court ruled Monday that the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), passed in 2005 to grant the gun industry broad immunity from civil liability, is unconstitutional. Pennsylvania Superior Court Judges John Bender , Deborah Kunselman and John Musmanno held that the law, which bars most civil suits against gunmakers and sellers, violates the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because it strips states of the power to rely on their common law to hold the industry accountable for negligence. The Pennsylvania decision is the first to conclude that PLCAA is unconstitutional, after a half-dozen federal and state appellate courts have upheld the law’s constitutionality in challenges under the 10th and 5th Amendments. Want more On the Case? Listen to the On the Case podcast . The Pennsylvania appellate judges rejected arguments by the Justice Department , which intervened to defend PLCAA’s constitutionality, that the Constitution’s Commerce Clause allows Congress to preempt state tort law. “The Commerce Clause simply does not stretch that far, and the 10th Amendment forbids it,” wrote Judge Kunselman in an exhaustive 63-page opinion in Gustafson v. Springfield Armory. “If we accept the federal government’s theory that filing a state action, in a state court, is within Congress’s reach, then the 50 states must forfeit all their sovereignty to the federal government,” the court said. “This is definitely not the vision that Hamilton, Madison, and the other Founders had […]

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