American Thinker: Hillary: Impose Gun Control by Judicial Fiat

Hillary’s gun control plans are just a continuation of her husband’s…

Via American Thinker:

It’s no news that Hillary Clinton is against guns (except those in the hands of people who protect the high and mighty) and enthusiastically in favor of restricting gun owners. When it gets down to specifics, her position does become vague, with some exceptions. One of those exceptions stands out only because of its obscurity.

Hillary really, really, wants to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. The PLCAA essentially protects gun manufacturers and gun dealers from being sued unless, well, they have done something wrong. It’s a perfectly simple standard that would apply in any other field of human endeavor.

The reason for the PLCAA’s enactment was simple. As law professor Timothy Lytton wrote, before PLCAA was enacted: “By 2000 gun litigation was regularly front-page news, and manufacturers faced potentially bankrupting industrywide liability exposure as a result of suits by dozens of individual victims, over thirty cities, and the State of New York.” These suits were based upon various elaborations of the argument that “guns are used in crime, and so gun manufacturers should pay for what criminals have done.” Some sought to impose liability even where no one could prove what gun criminals had used: the theory was that all gun makers should pay for all gun crime, in proportion to their annual production level.

Hillary’s focus on repealing the PLCAA seems strange: it’s been on the books for eleven years, it was passed by 2-1 bipartisan majorities (65-31 Senate, 283-144 House), and every suit it has blocked is one that should never have been filed. Yet oppose it Hillary does. Her campaign webpage proposes to “Take on the gun lobby by removing the industry’s sweeping legal protection for illegal and irresponsible actions (which makes it almost impossible for people to hold them accountable), and revoking licenses from dealers who break the law.” She told the Bridgeport News that “as president, I would lead the charge to repeal this law.” In Iowa, she called the PLCAA “one of the most egregious, wrong, pieces of legislation that ever passed the Congress.”

But, even given her anti-gun beliefs, why does Hillary place so high a priority on repealing some eleven-year-old statute?

The papers found in her husband’s presidential archives in Little Rock show why the lawsuits that the PLCAA stopped were so important to his anti-gun plans. A January 2000 question and answer document, probably meant to prepare Bill Clinton for a press conference, asks about his involvement in the lawsuits against the gun industry. It suggests as an answer that he “intends to engage the gun industry in negotiations” to “achieve meaningful reforms to the way the gun industry does business.” The memo suggests he close with “We want real reforms that will improve the public safety and save lives.”

This is noteworthy: the Clinton White House did not see the lawsuits’ purpose as winning money, but as a means to pressure the gun industry into adopting the Clinton “reforms.” What might those reforms have been?

The Clinton Presidential Archives answered that question, too. In December 1999, the “Office of the Deputy Secretary” (presumably of Treasury) had sent a fax to the fax line for Clinton’s White House Domestic Policy Council. The fax laid out a proposed settlement of the legal cases. The terms were very well designed. They would have given the antigun movements all the victories that it had been unable to win in Congress over the past twenty years! Moreover, the terms would be imposed by a court order, not by a statute. That meant that any violation could be prosecuted as a contempt of court, by the parties to the lawsuit rather than by the government. A future Congress could not repeal the judgment, and a future White House could not block its enforcement. The settlement would have a permanent existence outside the democratic process.

Read more here.