Much ado is made about the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or the PLCAA as commonly known. The legislation provides broad protections of arms manufacturers and sellers similar to those in other industries like aerospace and automotive. Basically, so long as a manufacturer sells their wares in compliance with Federal Law, they are immune from frivolous lawsuits.
Like the similar legislation, the PLCAA also has its exceptions, as it does not cover true negligence or claims of “negligent entrustment”. In the case of the firearms industry, this means selling to a known or what should have been reasonably known to be a prohibited person. This standard is the same that had the Sandy Hook lawsuit dismissed – Bushmaster and the dealer followed all applicable laws and had no way of knowing that the shooter would get their hands on their wares.
However, one Missouri gun shop is guilty of negligent entrustment. Following calls from a frantic mother advising them of the instability of her daughter, sold a firearm which was ultimately used to kill her father and her own suicide attempt. The mother provided a description, birth date, name, and social security number.
As a small shop owner, we are charged with broad discretion in going through with a sale. Based on my briefings with my IOI, this would be a clear case where the shop should not have sold the firearm, despite being legally allowed to do so as the shooter passed a background check.
That terrible decision has cost the shop $2.2 million; a costly lesson.