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Congress gave gun companies special protection in 2005. It should repeal it now.


When Ford Pintos kept exploding after their gas tanks were punctured, victims eventually sued. Ordinarily, in such a case, they would have been limited to actual damages, but a jury in 1981 awarded $125 million in punitive damages, shocking the industry. Why? Because the record uncovered at trial showed that Ford was fully aware of the likelihood of explosions but chose not to install the improvements necessary to prevent them. The company reasoned it would be cheaper to pay out occasional damages than install the new tanks — a few dollars a pop — in every car off the line.

That’s the power of tort litigation to uncover the true liability manufacturers might have when their products lead to deadly results. It’s also something the gun industry — whose products are under increasing scrutiny as mass shootings and gun violence tick upward — is largely protected against.

President Biden has made repealing the unusual protection and special treatment — granted by a 2005 law barring suits seeking to hold gunmakers liable when their products are used to commit crimes, including murder — a top priority. We think he’s right.

“If I get one thing on my list — [if] the Lord came down and said, ‘Joe, you get one of these’ — give me that one,” Biden said in a Rose Garden ceremony in April 2021.



Read More: Congress gave gun companies special protection in 2005. It should repeal it now.

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