There is an old joke: how can you tell when a politician is lying? The answer: his lips are moving.
In the case of President Joe Biden, it certainly seems that when he's speaking about guns he's certainly either badly misinformed or lying. Either should be seen as a problem for the Second Amendment.
During his address in the White House Rose Garden, in which he called for legislators to enact new gun control provisions, Biden made a number of highly dubious claims about the Second Amendment, but he also tried to suggest that gun owners couldn't face lawsuits.
"This is the only outfit that is exempt from being sued," Biden suggested referring to the firearms industry. "If I get one thing on my list — (if) the Lord came down and said, 'Joe, you get one of these' — give me that one. Most people don't realize, the only industry in America, a billion-dollar industry, that can't be sued, exempt from being sued, are gun manufacturers."
He was likely referring to the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), also known as "The Child Safety Lock Act," which does protect gun manufacturers from being held liable in cases when people commit crimes using their products.
However, firearm manufactures can still absolutely be sued – and have been – for a number of other reasons including product defects. As Biden actually went to law school (albeit more than five decades ago) it seems bewildering that he would make such a claim because it simply isn't true.
The law actually was enacted to keep firearms makers from nuisance lawsuits where individuals misused their products. Gunmakers had faced a slew of such lawsuits in the 1990s and 2000s related to gun crimes. Many of the cases were dismissed on appeal.
The rationale is that you can't sue a carmaker for the actions of a drunk driver, nor can you sue the maker should someone cause an accident. Firearms are now treated the same way, but as noted, manufacturers can be sued if the product suffers a defect.
Even the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence notes there are six exceptions to the blanket civil immunity provided by the PLCAA. This includes if the manufacturer knowingly violated a state or federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the product.
In fact, many firearms makers have created specific models to address statutes specifically for California to ensure compliance with the PLCAA. Likewise, the websites for most of the major manufacturers also make it clear their products are not available in some markets including New York and California among others. That clearly shows that the companies know the PLCAA doesn't give them blanket civil immunity to sell any product they want without fear of lawsuits.
Biden's calls to overturn the PLCAA would be a way to sue firearms makers into bankruptcy.
"He wants to drive us out of business," Mark Oliva, the director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade group, told NBC News. "So it's a very scary proposition, and we take it very seriously."
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.