This bill would help hold the gun industry accountable and help save lives I Opinion

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Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, Assemblyman John F. McKeon | May 27, 2022 | Star-Ledger |

 

In recent years, tragedies caused by gun violence have left an indelible mark in our minds. Nationally, in 2020, more people died of gun-related injuries than in any other year. In New Jersey, 443 people were killed by a firearm. Beyond its human toll, gun violence costs our state an estimated $3.3 billion every year.

Gun violence continues to impact our communities whether it is through the killing of our babies in a classroom, or the killing of our family members shopping on a Sunday, or even being killed as you watch a movie, no one is safe from this reality. It affects big and small cities alike. But the truth is, while this violence affects us all, it still disproportionally impacts Black and brown communities at an alarming rate. This is a full-fledged public health crisis.

The crisis in this country, and in New Jersey, is complex and calls for policies that are multifaceted. Currently, a federal law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCCA), prevents states from being able to sue the gun industry for irresponsible behavior that facilitates gun violence. It provides immunity to the firearms industry that is unlike the protections provided to any other industry. Yet, the PLCAA has a carve out that allows state lawsuits to move forward in certain cases when the gun industry has broken a state law related to the marketing or selling of guns.

Recognizing that no such law exists in New Jersey, we introduced (A1765/S1893). This legislation empowers the attorney general to bring lawsuits against the gun industry to hold it accountable for doing business with irresponsible gun dealers who do not adopt the reasonable and safe practices that would help to save lives.

This bill will not only hold those accountable who continue to act negligently but is part of a broader approach that will address gun violence in all forms. This bill will work in concert with New Jersey’s existing gun violence prevention laws.

While New Jersey is, in many ways, at the forefront of innovative legislation that combats gun violence, we must continue to push forward legislation such as this to prevent future tragedies. Holding irresponsible actors in the gun distribution chain civilly accountable can deter such behavior and save lives. Keeping New Jersey families safe is not only our top priority but also our duty.

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