Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act

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The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was passed by the U.S. Senate on July 29, 2005, by a vote of 65-31. On October 20, 2005, it was passed by the House of Representatives 283 in favor and 144 opposed. It was signed into law on October 26, 2005, by President George W. Bush and became Public Law 109-92. The National Rifle Association thanked President Bush for signing the Act, for which it had lobbied, describing it as, "...the most significant piece of pro-gun legislation in twenty years into law."[1]

In the years before passage of the act, victims of firearms violence in the United States had successfully sued manufacturers and dealers for negligence on the grounds that they should have foreseen that their products would be diverted to criminal use.[2] The purpose of the act is to prevent firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable for negligence when crimes have been committed with their products. However, both manufacturers and dealers can still be held liable for damages resulting from defective products, breach of contract, criminal misconduct, and other actions for which they are directly responsible in much the same manner that any U.S. based manufacturer of consumer products (i.e. automobiles, appliances, power tools, etc.) are held responsible.

A similar measure had been rejected by the Senate on March 2, 2004 after it had been combined with an extension to the assault weapons ban into a single piece of legislation.

The final bill passed only after an amendment was added that mandated safety locks on handguns and after the assault weapons ban renewal had been prevented from being added onto the bill.

The PLCAA is codified at 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901-7903.

After the 2012 Aurora, Colorado and Sandy Hook, Connecticut shooting incidents, a renewed effort has been mounted to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act to make it possible for victims of gun violence to sue firearms manufacturers and dealers on a broader array of grounds, although these efforts have proven mostly fruitless.[2][3]

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