During his remarks on gun violence in America last Thursday, President Joe Biden repeated a falsehood he regularly cites on the subject and which was repeated in a tweet the same day:
Biden has made a broader claim on this subject in the past, previously calling gun manufacturers “the only industry in America that can’t be sued.” In his Thursday speech, Biden made a slightly different claim: That firearm manufacturers enjoy special privileges that protects them “from being sued for the death and destruction caused by their weapons.”
This phrasing is closer to being accurate, but is still misleading. Gun manufacturers do have a liability shield that protects them from most lawsuits involving crimes the weapons they make are used in. But, as noted in a past fact check:
“the liability shield doesn’t offer complete protection from all lawsuits related to crimes carried out with firearms: A lawsuit filed against Remington by the family members of victims from the Sandy Hook school shooting argued that Remington bore some culpability for the shooting because advertising for the gun used by the killer emphasized its use as a combat weapon. As this broke Connecticut state law regarding advertising practices, the lawsuit was allowed to proceed, and the case was settled with Remington agreeing to pay $73 million to the families.”
More significantly, gun manufacturers receive no protection regarding defects in their products and any injuries or death that may be caused by them. The liability shield also doesn’t protect them in instances in which firearm manufacturers knowingly break federal or state laws regarding the manufacturing or selling of firearms.
Biden went on to claim that gun manufacturers are “the only industry in this country that has that kind of immunity.” He is in error here as well. The manufacturers of automobiles, for example, are liable for injuries or deaths sustained because of their products in instances of a defect, but cannot be sued simply because someone gets in an accident. More recently, pharmaceutical companies and the Food and Drug Administration have received similar protections that prevent Americans from suing them over side effects from the coronavirus vaccine.
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