D.C. Is Imaginative

On January 10, in a unanimous 3-judge decision the District Columbia Court of Appeals found that the federal “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act” (PLCAA) blocked lawsuits under D.C.’s “Strict Liability Act.” This was a significant victory for both he Rule of Law and for Civil Rights.

Washington D.C.’s “Strict Liability Law” had tried to make manufacturers, importers, and dealers liable “without regard to fault or proof of defect” for illegal use of firearms. This is a principle that has been rejected by nearly all US courts that have ever looked at the issue. In this case (District of Columbia v. Beretta, U.S.A.), the D.C. government tried to sue to recover health care and emergency services costs supposedly created by criminal gun use in the District.

District Columbia Court of Appeals described the District Government’s arguments “imaginative,” and court found that D.C.’s lawsuit didn’t fall within any of the PLCAA’s exceptions for legitimate suits, and that allowing the suit would “frustrate Congress’s clear intention” in passing the PLCAA. The court also found that the PLCAA is constitutional, both in terms of separation of powers and due process.

Previously, in 2002, D.C. Superior Court Judge Cheryl M. Long threw out this same reckless lawsuit, rejecting the nuisance and negligence claims and concluding that a 1990 statute, the Assault Weapon Manufacturing Strict Liability Act, was unconstitutional.

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4 Responses to “D.C. Is Imaginative”

  1. Christy Says:

    Thanks for the post.

  2. jonolan Says:

    No problem πŸ˜€

  3. Odale Says:

    Great post and thank you for clarifying, Jonolan! I saw the story but did not have (take?) time to look in to it and now better understand the significance. Always looking for someone to ‘go after’ and blame. Sigh. . . Hard to sympathize sometimes.

    This at the same time our President is making billion dollar Arms deals with Saudi Arabia. . . too much under-the-surface activity and it’s difficult to know which way to look before crossing the street. Oh, for the days when we could say, “Look both ways.” πŸ˜‰

    Just wanted to say, “Hi”, and see what’s going on with you. Good work, as usual!

  4. jonolan Says:

    Hi, Odale! Welcome back. πŸ™‚

    Yes, some people like the D.C. Council, seem to have to find someone – anyone – to blame for their problems. Of course this lawsuit and the entire Strict Liability Act was also a way to augment and/or circumvent civil law by using tort law instead. They couldn’t arrest the manufacturer, so the tried to sue them instead. Thankfully it’s been quashed.

    The Saudi arms deal is a lot more complicated though. Sadly, I don’t have enough information to make more than guesses at the reasoning there.

    We never really could “just look both ways.” Things aren’t that much more complicated these days – we’re just more informed.

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