Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has claimed that the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) makes a gun “the only product of its kinds for which Congress has given the industry extensive freedom from liability.” However, the PLCAA afforded no protections to the arms industry that did not already exist for all industries. Activists are targeting this law because it prevents the anti-gun lobby from using the legal system to bypass the legislature and cripple the lawful sale of arms, as Healy is attempting to do in Massachusetts.
The PLCAA, which was passed with bipartisan support, only shields manufacturers under a narrow set of circumstances. It prevents innocent firearms manufacturers from being held liable when criminals misuse their products. To understand the opposition, one must understand the nature of the lawsuits it was written to prevent.
Liability for What They Did, Not What They Didn’t Do
Many have heard of “strict products liability” but are unsure of exactly what it means. If one thinks that it simply means that a manufacturer must pay for any harm its goods cause, the argument against the PLCAA might make some sense. However, that is far from the reality.
Generally, manufacturers and dealers are held liable for any harm caused by products sold “in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user.” This includes manufacturing defects, unsafe design, and inadequate warnings. This means a plaintiff need not prove the manufacturer was at fault; he need only prove the existence of a defect. So, if a product is deemed “unreasonably dangerous,” a manufacturer would almost certainly lose a lawsuit involving harm from that product. This is why the anti-gun crowd salivates at this type of liability.
Continue reading at The Federalist.
Donald J. Trump’s win upset many college students across the nation, leading to classes being called off, students walking out of their classes in protest and colleges creating more safe spaces. Fortunately, College of Charleston did not follow the trend of coddling students or intolerance towards differing views. Despite having earned FIRE‘s “red light,” which means the school has at least one policy that is not in line with the First Amendment, the College maintained itself as a place of higher learning, where students freely exchange their ideas regardless of how controversial they may be.
No incidents of suppressed speech took place on campus until November 15th, when Glenn F. McConnell, the President of the College, emailed students and faculty members reminding them that in the aftermath of the elections, “it is our duty as Americans and members of the College of Charleston to treat each other with kindness and empathy. No matter the political divide, we must always be tolerant of each other’s views.” However, he added, “Hateful speech and actions will not be tolerated at the College.” The issue here is how vague the term “hateful speech” is, since it holds a subjective meaning. Further, much of what people consider “hateful speech” is generally protected.
Continue reading at Students for Liberty.
This holiday season, online shoppers from Alabama can expect a higher price at checkout due to the state’s new tax policy. Alabama’s Simplified Sellers Use Tax, colloquially known as the ‘Amazon tax,’ is the latest in a series of state laws seeking to get around the Constitution in order to force out-of-state retailers to collect state taxes, in the name of protecting small businesses.
Amazon, despite being the tax’s popular namesake and one of its primary targets, has yet to challenge the tax. This complacency seems to undermine Alabama’s justification that the tax will protect local business from Amazon. Instead, it is more likely that the new program serves to boost the bankrupt state’s waning General Fund, rather than promote fair competition for local businesses.
Unfortunately for Alabama, there are constitutional limitations on state taxation. Over a century of case law recognize that a state cannot regulate business outside its jurisdiction, or pass laws which discriminate against interstate commerce.
States can only constitutionally tax businesses having a “substantial nexus,” or connection, with the state. For years, “substantial nexus” has been understood to require some sort of physical presence inside the state, and following Scripto, Inc. v. Carson, the “furthest constitutional reach”is the presence of ten independent contractors acting as local salespeople.
Continue reading at Watchdog.