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Warren’s Gun Control Plan Endorses Holding Gun Manufacturers ‘Strictly Liable’ For Damages

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren gestures as she speaks during a campaign stop at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia on May 16, 2019.
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

On Saturday, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) released her "plan for gun violence prevention."

 

The senator’s plan, which was published on blogging platform Medium, includes over 30 bullet points relating to gun control (many of which are similar to other proposals from Democratic politicians), including a new "federal assault weapons ban," increased excise taxes on firearms (30%) and ammunition (50%), the banning of "high-capacity ammunition magazines," lengthening waiting periods for firearms purchases, and allowing "gun manufacturers" to be "strictly liable."

Warren’s plan states that by increasing excise taxes, the United States can "reduce new gun and ammunition sales overall and to bring in new federal revenue that we can use for gun violence prevention and enforcement of existing gun laws."

As for the new federal assault weapons ban, Warren’s plan would "require individuals already in possession of assault weapons to register them under the National Firearms Act." The plan would also enact a firearms buyback program that would impose "penalties" on gun owners who don’t register or turn in their "assault weapons."

Warren doesn’t specify what "high-capacity" means, but states that Congress should determine "reasonable limits on the lethality of these weapons," which would presumably include a decision regarding what constitutes "high-capacity."

 

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of Warren’s plan is the section on liability, which states in part that Americans should be able to "hold the manufacturer of the weapon that harmed them strictly liable for compensatory damages to the victim or their family."

Gun manufacturers make billions in profit by knowingly selling deadly products. Then they are let completely off the hook when people take those deadly products and inflict harm on thousands of victims each year. State tort law already recognizes that certain types of products and activities are so abnormally dangerous that the entities responsible for them should be held strictly liable when people are injured. Congress should codify that same principle at the federal level for guns by creating a new private right of action allowing survivors of gun violence to hold the manufacturer of the weapon that harmed them strictly liable for compensatory damages to the victim or their family.

 

Warren’s plan also demands a nebulous investigation into the National Rifle Association (NRA), the reporting of multiple firearms purchases, the creation of a "federal licensing system," raising the age limit on firearm purchases, banning the sale of firearms accessories, including suppressors, the implementation of so-called "universal background checks," limiting the number of guns bought by Americans to one a month, enacting "extreme risk protection laws," making colleges and universities "gun-free zones," and providing an annual $100 million to "conduct research into the root causes of gun violence and the most effective ways to prevent it."

In her conclusion, Warren writes that the "conversation about gun violence in America is shifting," and proceeds to blame the NRA, as well as President Donald Trump for his "extremist rhetoric" and "dangerous policies."

As Warren's "I have a plan for that" strategy continues, her stock appears to be rising, as the latest RealClearPolitics polling average has her eclipsing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for the second place spot behind former Vice President Joe Biden in the Democratic presidential race.

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