WASHINGTON, D.C. — NSSF®, The Firearm Industry Trade Association, filed a legal challenge against Hawaii’s recently-enacted public nuisance law, which – unless it is enjoined – will allow frivolous lawsuits against members of the firearm industry for the criminal and negligent misuse of firearms by remote third parties. NSSF alleges the law is designed to evade the judgment of the U.S. Supreme Court and laws enacted by Congress.
“Hawaii is attempting to subvert the will of Congress when the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) was passed with a wide bipartisan majority in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and signed into law by President George W. Bush,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “Public nuisance laws like Hawaii’s are nothing short of an attempt to drive ‘legislation through litigation,’ which is exactly why Congress passed PLCAA in the first place. These laws are unconstitutional and an abuse of the legal system to force a political agenda outside the legislative channels.”
Hawaii’s HB 426, signed into law by Gov. Josh Green, attempts to regulate firearm industry products produced outside of Hawaii by requiring the industry to adhere to an undefined and unenforceable set of “reasonable controls.” The law allows state officials and private parties to bring civil actions against firearm industry members for damages resulting from the criminal misuse of firearms or ammunition by a remote third party. This is not in keeping with the intent of PLCAA; rather, it is exactly what the PLCAA was designed to prevent.
Hawaii is attempting to resurrect the same sort of frivolous lawsuits that states and local governments attempted in the late 1990s and early 2000s, which led to Congress passing PLCAA. The PLCAA was signed into law because Congress knew antigun politicians were using the courts as an end-round to circumvent the lawmaking process. The irony was certain elected officials then – and now – oppose the PLCAA because it blocked their “attempt to circumvent the Legislative branch of government” and “would expand civil liability in a manner never contemplated by the framers of the Constitution.”
The PLCAA does nothing more than codify black letter tort law. The law simply says that these agenda-driven lawsuits can’t be brought against a manufacturer or retailer that had nothing to do with the criminal or wrongful misuse of their product.