Dear Members of the 114th Congress:
Gun manufacturers make up the only industry in America that is protected from lawsuits when its products lead to violence and death.
In 2005, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which granted broad immunity from liability to gun manufacturers and dealers in federal and state courts. PLCAA prevents plaintiffs from filing lawsuits against gun manufacturers or dealers for negligence or “criminal or unlawful misuse” of a firearm or ammunition.
We are the parents of Jessica Ghawi, an Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting victim. We filed a lawsuit against Lucky Gunner, the online company that provided the ammunition to the gunman who murdered our daughter along with 11 others and injured 70 others. We brought our lawsuit because we thought it was outrageous that companies could sell a dangerous man an arsenal without getting any information about him, and without making any effort to see if he was a dangerous killer—which he was.
The lawsuit was thrown out because of PLCAA, and the judge ordered that we pay $203,000 for the company’s attorney fees. This is an outrageous amount, especially given that this case was decided after one single motion. Lucky Gunner has said that it is going to donate all these fees to “gun rights” groups. The thought is disgusting to us that Lucky Gunner does not even plan to use this money to pay for their attorney’s fees. PLCAA does not protect us or other families of victims of gun violence.
According to the Violence Policy Center, gun deaths are surpassing motor vehicle deaths in 21 states and the District of Columbia. Lawsuits against the auto industry have contributed to improved motor vehicle safety standards, which have resulted in a steady decline in motor vehicle deaths in the past ten years. PLCAA must be repealed in order to improve firearm industry safety standards and reduce gun deaths and injuries in our nation.
Other families of victims of gun violence, survivors, supporters, faith groups, and numerous gun violence prevention organizations urge you to support Senator Richard Blumenthal and Representative Adam Schiff’s bill, the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act, to repeal PLCAA. The gun industry should not be the only industry in America that is protected from lawsuits when its products lead to violence and death.
Sandy Phillips, Mother of Jessica Ghawi, who was killed in Aurora, CO
Lonnie Phillips, Stepfather of Jessica Ghawi, who was killed in Aurora, CO
Newtown Action Alliance, Newtown, CT
Po Murray, Advocate, Sandy Hook, CT