15 U.S.C.
United States Code, 2010 Edition
Title 15 - COMMERCE AND TRADE
CHAPTER 105 - PROTECTION OF LAWFUL COMMERCE IN ARMS
From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov

CHAPTER 105—PROTECTION OF LAWFUL COMMERCE IN ARMS

Sec.
7901.
Findings; purposes.
7902.
Prohibition on bringing of qualified civil liability actions in Federal or State court.
7903.
Definitions.

        

§7901. Findings; purposes

(a) Findings

Congress finds the following:

(1) The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

(2) The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the rights of individuals, including those who are not members of a militia or engaged in military service or training, to keep and bear arms.

(3) Lawsuits have been commenced against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers of firearms that operate as designed and intended, which seek money damages and other relief for the harm caused by the misuse of firearms by third parties, including criminals.

(4) The manufacture, importation, possession, sale, and use of firearms and ammunition in the United States are heavily regulated by Federal, State, and local laws. Such Federal laws include the Gun Control Act of 1968, the National Firearms Act [26 U.S.C. 5801 et seq.], and the Arms Export Control Act [22 U.S.C. 2751 et seq.].

(5) Businesses in the United States that are engaged in interstate and foreign commerce through the lawful design, manufacture, marketing, distribution, importation, or sale to the public of firearms or ammunition products that have been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce are not, and should not, be liable for the harm caused by those who criminally or unlawfully misuse firearm products or ammunition products that function as designed and intended.

(6) The possibility of imposing liability on an entire industry for harm that is solely caused by others is an abuse of the legal system, erodes public confidence in our Nation's laws, threatens the diminution of a basic constitutional right and civil liberty, invites the disassembly and destabilization of other industries and economic sectors lawfully competing in the free enterprise system of the United States, and constitutes an unreasonable burden on interstate and foreign commerce of the United States.

(7) The liability actions commenced or contemplated by the Federal Government, States, municipalities, and private interest groups and others are based on theories without foundation in hundreds of years of the common law and jurisprudence of the United States and do not represent a bona fide expansion of the common law. The possible sustaining of these actions by a maverick judicial officer or petit jury would expand civil liability in a manner never contemplated by the framers of the Constitution, by Congress, or by the legislatures of the several States. Such an expansion of liability would constitute a deprivation of the rights, privileges, and immunities guaranteed to a citizen of the United States under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

(8) The liability actions commenced or contemplated by the Federal Government, States, municipalities, private interest groups and others attempt to use the judicial branch to circumvent the Legislative branch of government to regulate interstate and foreign commerce through judgments and judicial decrees thereby threatening the Separation of Powers doctrine and weakening and undermining important principles of federalism, State sovereignty and comity between the sister States.

(b) Purposes

The purposes of this chapter are as follows:

(1) To prohibit causes of action against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers of firearms or ammunition products, and their trade associations, for the harm solely caused by the criminal or unlawful misuse of firearm products or ammunition products by others when the product functioned as designed and intended.

(2) To preserve a citizen's access to a supply of firearms and ammunition for all lawful purposes, including hunting, self-defense, collecting, and competitive or recreational shooting.

(3) To guarantee a citizen's rights, privileges, and immunities, as applied to the States, under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, pursuant to section 5 of that Amendment.

(4) To prevent the use of such lawsuits to impose unreasonable burdens on interstate and foreign commerce.

(5) To protect the right, under the First Amendment to the Constitution, of manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers of firearms or ammunition products, and trade associations, to speak freely, to assemble peaceably, and to petition the Government for a redress of their grievances.

(6) To preserve and protect the Separation of Powers doctrine and important principles of federalism, State sovereignty and comity between sister States.

(7) To exercise congressional power under article IV, section 1 (the Full Faith and Credit Clause) of the United States Constitution.

(Pub. L. 109–92, §2, Oct. 26, 2005, 119 Stat. 2095.)

References in Text

The Gun Control Act of 1968, referred to in subsec. (a)(4), is Pub. L. 90–618, Oct. 22, 1968, 82 Stat. 1213, as amended. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note set out under section 921 of Title 18, Crimes and Criminal Procedure, and Tables.

The National Firearms Act, referred to in subsec. (a)(4), is classified generally to chapter 53 (§5801 et seq.) of Title 26, Internal Revenue Code. See section 5849 of Title 26.

The Arms Export Control Act, referred to in subsec. (a)(4), is Pub. L. 90–629, Oct. 22, 1968, 82 Stat. 1320, as amended, which is classified principally to chapter 39 (§2751 et seq.) of Title 22, Foreign Relations and Intercourse. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note set out under section 2751 of Title 22 and Tables.

This chapter, referred to in subsec. (b), was in the original “this Act”, meaning Pub. L. 109–92, Oct. 26, 2005, 119 Stat. 2095, known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note set out below and Tables.

Short Title

Pub. L. 109–92, §1, Oct. 26, 2005, 119 Stat. 2095, provided that: “This Act [enacting this chapter, amending sections 922 and 924 of Title 18, Crimes and Criminal Procedure, and enacting provisions set out as notes under sections 921 and 922 of Title 18] may be cited as the ‘Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act’.”

§7902. Prohibition on bringing of qualified civil liability actions in Federal or State court

(a) In general

A qualified civil liability action may not be brought in any Federal or State court.

(b) Dismissal of pending actions

A qualified civil liability action that is pending on October 26, 2005, shall be immediately dismissed by the court in which the action was brought or is currently pending.

(Pub. L. 109–92, §3, Oct. 26, 2005, 119 Stat. 2096.)

§7903. Definitions

In this chapter:

(1) Engaged in the business

The term “engaged in the business” has the meaning given that term in section 921(a)(21) of title 18, and, as applied to a seller of ammunition, means a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to the sale of ammunition as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the sale or distribution of ammunition.

(2) Manufacturer

The term “manufacturer” means, with respect to a qualified product, a person who is engaged in the business of manufacturing the product in interstate or foreign commerce and who is licensed to engage in business as such a manufacturer under chapter 44 of title 18.

(3) Person

The term “person” means any individual, corporation, company, association, firm, partnership, society, joint stock company, or any other entity, including any governmental entity.

(4) Qualified product

The term “qualified product” means a firearm (as defined in subparagraph (A) or (B) of section 921(a)(3) of title 18), including any antique firearm (as defined in section 921(a)(16) of such title), or ammunition (as defined in section 921(a)(17)(A) of such title), or a component part of a firearm or ammunition, that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.

(5) Qualified civil liability action

(A) In general

The term “qualified civil liability action” means a civil action or proceeding or an administrative proceeding brought by any person against a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product, or a trade association, for damages, punitive damages, injunctive or declaratory relief, abatement, restitution, fines, or penalties, or other relief, resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a qualified product by the person or a third party, but shall not include—

(i) an action brought against a transferor convicted under section 924(h) of title 18, or a comparable or identical State felony law, by a party directly harmed by the conduct of which the transferee is so convicted;

(ii) an action brought against a seller for negligent entrustment or negligence per se;

(iii) 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, including—

(I) any case in which the manufacturer or seller knowingly made any false entry in, or failed to make appropriate entry in, any record required to be kept under Federal or State law with respect to the qualified product, or aided, abetted, or conspired with any person in making any false or fictitious oral or written statement with respect to any fact material to the lawfulness of the sale or other disposition of a qualified product; or

(II) any case in which the manufacturer or seller aided, abetted, or conspired with any other person to sell or otherwise dispose of a qualified product, knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that the actual buyer of the qualified product was prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm or ammunition under subsection (g) or (n) of section 922 of title 18;


(iv) an action for breach of contract or warranty in connection with the purchase of the product;

(v) an action for death, physical injuries or property damage resulting directly from a defect in design or manufacture of the product, when used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner, except that where the discharge of the product was caused by a volitional act that constituted a criminal offense, then such act shall be considered the sole proximate cause of any resulting death, personal injuries or property damage; or

(vi) an action or proceeding commenced by the Attorney General to enforce the provisions of chapter 44 of title 18 or chapter 53 of title 26.

(B) Negligent entrustment

As used in subparagraph (A)(ii), the term “negligent entrustment” means the supplying of a qualified product by a seller for use by another person when the seller knows, or reasonably should know, the person to whom the product is supplied is likely to, and does, use the product in a manner involving unreasonable risk of physical injury to the person or others.

(C) Rule of construction

The exceptions enumerated under clauses (i) through (v) of subparagraph (A) shall be construed so as not to be in conflict, and no provision of this chapter shall be construed to create a public or private cause of action or remedy.

(D) Minor child exception

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to limit the right of a person under 17 years of age to recover damages authorized under Federal or State law in a civil action that meets 1 of the requirements under clauses (i) through (v) of subparagraph (A).

(6) Seller

The term “seller” means, with respect to a qualified product—

(A) an importer (as defined in section 921(a)(9) of title 18) who is engaged in the business as such an importer in interstate or foreign commerce and who is licensed to engage in business as such an importer under chapter 44 of title 18;

(B) a dealer (as defined in section 921(a)(11) of title 18) who is engaged in the business as such a dealer in interstate or foreign commerce and who is licensed to engage in business as such a dealer under chapter 44 of title 18; or

(C) a person engaged in the business of selling ammunition (as defined in section 921(a)(17)(A) of title 18) in interstate or foreign commerce at the wholesale or retail level.

(7) State

The term “State” includes each of the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and any other territory or possession of the United States, and any political subdivision of any such place.

(8) Trade association

The term “trade association” means—

(A) any corporation, unincorporated association, federation, business league, professional or business organization not organized or operated for profit and no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual;

(B) that is an organization described in section 501(c)(6) of title 26 and exempt from tax under section 501(a) of such title; and

(C) 2 or more members of which are manufacturers or sellers of a qualified product.

(9) Unlawful misuse

The term “unlawful misuse” means conduct that violates a statute, ordinance, or regulation as it relates to the use of a qualified product.

(Pub. L. 109–92, §4, Oct. 26, 2005, 119 Stat. 2097.)

References in Text

This chapter, referred to in text, was in the original “this Act”, meaning Pub. L. 109–92, Oct. 26, 2005, 119 Stat. 2095, known as the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note set out under section 7901 of this title and Tables.