Via America’s Lawyer: Legal journalist Mollye Barrows joins Mike Papantonio to talk about the legal protections and limited liability gun manufacturers CONTINUE to enjoy. This, despite the most recent mass shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH which have left at least 31 people dead.
*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.
Mike Papantonio: This weekend tragedy befell at least another 30 Americans who were ruthlessly killed in a pair of mass shootings at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and an entertainment district right there in Dayton, Ohio. As election season kicks into high gear, the national spotlight is once again turned to the issue of gun control and our country’s dire need for federal legislation to protect our citizens from the country’s gravest public health crisis. Just when will federal lawmakers wake up to this epidemic that appears uniquely American in so many ways.
Legal journalist Mollye Barrows joins me now to talk about it. Mollye, what comes to my mind about this story is everybody’s talking about legislation. But coming from where I do is, is a trial lawyer, the thing that’s the ugliest thing about this is the immunity that the congress has given to the gun, gun administration. I mean, to the, to the NRA.
Mollye Barrows: Yes.
Mike Papantonio: So it’s, it’s immunity. They say we can, you know, you can be negligent. You can set out to create a defective product. You might have a safer design and you should use. It doesn’t make any difference what you say, you can’t sue them unless you show that they intentionally set out to have this product built in such a way to kill people. Now I think, I think we’re getting there, but tell, tell us about that a little bit.
Mollye Barrows: Well, I think it’s interesting, you know, I keep thinking about that phrase as I was researching this law about, you know how they like to say guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But I’m like, well guns make a lot of money for people and especially if you’re in the NRA or anywhere affiliated with a lot of these legislators that accept money from them, which is just such a long list and it’s such a powerful lobby. But, and it, and I don’t know what role, if any, they particularly played in the passage of the protection of lawful commerce in arms act, but that’s the law that was passed in 2005 which basically gave gun manufacturers as well as sellers, immunity from lawsuits. And as you know, in your business, I mean that’s exactly what holds people accountable.
If you don’t hit them in the pocketbook, they’re not going to be able to, to care enough, if you will, to feel the pain, to make any changes because certainly they don’t care about people losing their lives. Now, there are some loopholes in that if they deliberately know that they’re selling something or, or that, that is defective, they’re not allowed to do that. Or if perhaps an individual retailer sold a gun to someone that they realized was not capable of handling it safely, then they could potentially be held accountable. But this basically says under commerce, you cannot sue the gun manufacturers because they’re just doing what they do and they can’t be held responsible for how people use it.
Mike Papantonio: Now, now I want you to think of how, how ridiculous that is. Okay. If a car manufacturer makes a brake system and they know that the brake system is going to fail or they have every reason to know it, they’ve got a history of it, their tests showed some element of it, they’re, we should be able to sue a gun manufacturing, the manufacturer the same way. We know, for example, that we had, we had to build a safer car where the brake system worked.
Mollye Barrows: Right.
Mike Papantonio: And we know that we can build a safer gun that is something that, the industry understands that there’s all kinds of ways to make even a safer AR-15 where it comes to it being a killing implement. But they won’t do it because they don’t have to do it. And the only way you shut them down is to sue them. You have to take their, their grubby little money away from them. And right now, Congress has said in 2005 we can’t do that. The reason we know it, as you know, Perry White is a friend of mine brought the lawsuit up in New York. As soon as he brought the lawsuit, Congress started saying, hey, how can we stop the lawsuit? And they actually passed this legislation, I call it the Perry White’s legislation because it was his lawsuit that was actually causing the gun administration so much ,the gun business so much problems.
Mollye Barrows: And, and it’s interesting that you could put a face to that because that’s what it said. There were a series of successful lawsuits in the 1990s and they were holding these gun manufacturers and retailers accountable for the deaths that they were experiencing. Because do we really need military style magazines available to the public? How many deer can you kill in one go if it really is about hunting? But that’s not what they’re being used for. And you’re exactly right, they were successful in their lawsuits against these manufacturers and by gala, they weren’t going to stand for it. Now, there have been some challenges to this law, but none had been very successful.
You know, your various courts have basically shot them down. Most recently, Sandy Hook presidents or presence, parents rather tried to sue over the Remington and that initially it was dismissed. And now it’s found footing again and being allowed to move forward. So perhaps we’ll see in the wake of some of these other tremendously tragic incidents that maybe, there will be some opportunity. But New York, the state of New York, I thought it was interesting, tried to do it under, basically saying that it was a, what’s the word that I’m looking for? But that it’s a nuisance. That was, it was a public nuisance. But, that was shot down.
Mike Papantonio: Well, that’s right. Here’s the problem, right now, the court system is so afraid to get involved in this because of this legislation that, oh, by the way, let me point this out. We had two years during the Obama, Obama Administration show you how strong the NRA is. Had two years during the Obama administration where you had lawyers pushing to say, look, Mr President Obama, you control the house and you control the Senate. This is our time to push through, get rid of this legislation right now. And you know what, you would have thought the Democrats would have done it. They didn’t do it because they take money just like the Republicans do.
Mollye Barrows: That’s right.
Mike Papantonio: So the, the only way to stop this is to deal with this, with a gun, the same way that we do any other element that’s manufacturer. Whether it’s a car, whether it’s an airplane, whether it’s a boat, if there, if we can articulate a defect or we can articulate an argument that, that all of this was foreseeable, we should be able to bring a lawsuit. But unfortunately that’s, that’s not the case. I want to pick up with your story when we get together next.
Mollye Barrows: I agree. Just, just real quick and I’ll be fast about it. But I did think it was interesting, you know, and it’s an unrelated issue to some extent, but a woman seeking abortion has to go through more steps in order to achieve that end, than somebody buying a weapon. And the damage certainly, and certainly what we’ve seen this weekend is just tremendous. So yeah, we’ll follow this.
Mike Papantonio: Yeah, no surprise. Mollye, thank you for joining me.