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PLCAA in New York Courts

Earlier this month a New York appeals court overturned the dismissal of a lawsuit against Beemiller, Inc, the maker of the Hi-Point 9mm, which is being sued because of criminal misuse of their product. The lower court, correctly, cited the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Law.com has a very good article with some background. John Richardson has more, including an NRA News interview with Steven Halbrook. The actual opinion cites the exceptions to the PLCAA as a reason for allowing the case to go forward, particularly the text which allows, “an action in which a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product¬†knowingly violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the product, and the violation¬†was a proximate cause of the harm for which relief is sought.”

The complaint is against the dealer, the distributor, and the manufacturer. The case is actually quite interesting. The dealer in this was licensed from his home, and did business at gun shows. There’s nothing unlawful about this arrangement, but it’s alleged that the dealer knowingly facilitated straw purchases in violation of federal law, which, if true, would indeed put the suit outside of the PLCAA. Where it gets interesting is that the dealer in question was a high level officer, and is now the President of the distributor that’s being sued as well. Said distributor is the sole marketer and distributor of Hi-Point firearms. The court essentially ruled that the plaintiffs are entitled to discovery, given these facts.

The Brady Center is touting this as a major landmark victory. They have been attempting to poke holes in the PLCAA virtually from the moment it passed, since it has effectively ruined their strategy to sue firearms manufacturers, distributors, and dealers out of existence. I haven’t been able to find all the pleadings in this case to know for sure, but the circumstances here look fairly unique and narrow, with someone who is a dealer and also part owner of the sole distributor of a firearms manufacturer. Nonetheless, the Bradys would love to carve a PLCAA exception wide enough such that any firearm sold by a dealer to a straw buyer can result in a potential lawsuit at least reaching the discovery phase. All it takes is for this to happen in a single jurisdiction, and it’ll be open season on firearms dealers.

6 Responses to “PLCAA in New York Courts”

  1. I had not heard about the relationship between the dealer and the distributor; I had only heard that dealer, distributor and manufacturer were being sued, and the case seemed to turn on the distance between the three parties.

    That the dealer in question is now the head of the exclusive distributor for Hi-Point would seem to complicate matters, but the case would still be decided on any party knowing that a party below them was engaged in illegalities.

  2. Bubblehead Les says:

    Don’t you just love it when a Self-Rightous Judge issues Rulings that say “I don’t care what the Law is or that I’ll be Overturned on Appeal! I need those Campaign Funds!”

    • SDN says:

      Les, DAs are another source for this kind of crap. In my college days, I worked for a chain bookstore in Montgomery AL and the local DA was on an anti-porn crusade and didn’t like the fact that we sold Playboy and Penthouse. He called up the store manager and said that unless they were removed he would come down and arrest him and his (female, pregnant) assistant manager. The manager pointed out that there were numerous rulings including from the US Supreme Court that said they were protected content and he would lose.

      DA Evans: “You know that and I know that, but until the Supreme Court rules both of you will sit in jail without bail. Your call.”

      We took down the magazines.

  3. AuricTech says:

    The complaint alleges that The court essentially ruled that the plaintiffs are entitled to discovery, given these facts.

    It seems that there are some words missing from this passage.

    • Sebastian says:

      Too many words. I started that sentence, went digging for the complaint to find something to use from it, couldn’t find it, so I started a new sentence before erasing the first.

  4. Shootin' Buddy says:

    We in Indiana went through this recently. The Supreme Court had to give our court(s) the smack down.

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