Poll: Wide Majority Oppose Suits Against Gun Makers

Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act popular despite Clinton attack

Glock 42 / AP
April 25, 2016

A new poll shows that more than 70 percent of Americans support keeping legal protections for gun makers and dealers whose products are used in crimes.

The poll, conducted in mid-April by Harper Polling and released by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, found that a wide majority supports the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and the legal protections it provides to the gun industry. When asked whether protections "should be kept and we should punish the criminals who commit these acts not the law-abiding manufacturers and retailers of lawful products which get misused," or if it "should be repealed because the current protection enables manufacturers and retailers to sell guns to people who shouldn't have them, because they know they cannot be sued and don't face any consequences," 72 percent said the law should be kept. Twenty-six percent favored the law's repeal. Another 4 percent were not sure.

The NSSF said the poll was conducted among 1,000 registered voters from across the country. The poll also found that majority support for the PLCAA was consistent across the Northeast, South, West, and Midwest. Fifty-six percent of non-gun-owners supported the law. Fifty-three percent of those who voted for President Obama in the last election also supported it.

The poll comes as Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, has made her opponent's vote for the PLCAA a major issue in her campaign. Clinton has repeatedly attacked the law and called for its repeal.

"Probably one of the most egregious, wrong, pieces of legislation that ever passed the Congress when it comes to this issue is to protect gun sellers and gun makers from liability," Clinton said at a rally in Iowa in October. "They are the only business in America that is wholly protected from any kind of liability. They can sell a gun to someone they know they shouldn't, and they won't be sued. There will be no consequences."

The PLCAA does not protect gun manufacturers or dealers from any form of liability. It does not protect gun makers from suits over defective products or gun dealers from suits over knowingly selling firearms to somebody prohibited from owning them. Instead, it protects the gun industry from suits over a third party's use of their products in the commission of a crime.

The NSSF said the poll shows the public support the law.

"The concept that an entire industry should not be held liable for the criminal or negligent use of products made and sold legally clearly makes sense to the overwhelming majority of the American public, as these poll results demonstrate," Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior vice president, said in a statement.

"We commissioned this poll to help determine where Americans stand. They have told us. Now, it's time for politicians to demonstrate that they have some respect for the good sense of the people and to stop vilifying the hard-working people of an entire industry and exploiting real tragedy that is the result of criminal conduct."