Attempted Undermining of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act ~ Williams v. Beemiller

Lawsuit
Attempted Undermining of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act ~ Williams v. Beemiller

Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- The New York Supreme Court recently ruled that a man shot by a gang member did not have standing to sue the retailer that legally sold the gun.  The court has been winding its tortuous way through the process for over a decade. Williams was shot in 2005.

Williams v. Beemiller is about injuries sustained from an assault committed by a New York High School gang on an innocent bystander, who was mistaken for a member of an opposition gang. Daniel Williams was shot and injured. High school gang members do not have lots of assets.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence seems to have agreed to help Williams sue the gun seller, the wholesaler, and the manufacturer of the pistol, looking for deep pockets.

Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act Support
Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, Citizen Support

The lower court dismissed the lawsuit as being outlawed by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, (PLCAA).  The PLCAA was passed to prevent gun manufacturers or dealers from being sued when people misused the firearms they legally made or sold. The purpose was to prevent lawsuits of manufacturers and dealers for the criminal deeds of others.

The appeals court made the claim the case might belong to an exception to the PLCAA, where a manufacturer or wholesaler knowingly illegally sells guns. In 2012, Law & Liberty summed up the case. From lawliberty.org in 2012:

The PLCAA does not insulate manufacturers from suits alleging violations of state or local laws. The complaint alleges an illegal straw sale by Brown and claims that the manufacturer was an accomplice in this sale. The crux of the claim is the allegation of an unusually close relationship between manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer. If proved, this is a very different fact pattern from the set of concerns that undergird the PLCAA. So Williams is not a landmark case. It just presents a fact pattern at the boundaries of the protections the statute was designed to create.

As the case was appealed yet again, it became clear that the gun seller, Brown, had acted completely within the law. He had even contacted the BATFE to make sure the transactions were legal. From buffalonews.com:

Attorneys for Williams had argued that Brown should have known that Bostic intended to sell the guns illegally in another state based on conversations in which he mentioned opening gun stores in Ohio and Buffalo.

Second Amendment rights advocate Steve Felano with the organization 2AWNY said the ruling “is a situation where logic prevailed over emotion.”

The shooting “really has nothing to do with the underlying statutes that the case brought,” Felano said. The firearms dealer appears to have made the sale lawfully and there was no way he could have known that the gun would have ended up in the hands of a gang member, he said.

The case mirrors other cases that are trying to hold gun sellers and manufacturers liable for shootings, he said.

The case went to the Supreme Court of New York. The court found that Brown had acted legally.  Because of procedural issues, the manufacturer and distributor still have to fight the case in New York courts.  From Williams v. Beemiller opinion:

Plaintiffs appropriately condemn the scourge of illegal gun trafficking affecting our state and others, which takes an enormous toll on injured parties and their communities. However, notwithstanding the sympathetic facts in this case, we must neutrally apply the well-established precedent of this Court and the United States Supreme Court, which precludes this action from proceeding against Brown in New York, while leaving claims against the manufacturer and distributor pending. Accordingly, the order of the Appellate Division should be affirmed, with costs

Williams was represented by the chief counsel for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. From sfchronicle.com:

Williams was represented by Jonathan Lowy, the chief counsel for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The group's spokesman, Max Samis, said it is disappointed by the ruling and is considering next steps.

“In the meantime, an active suit still exists against the firearm distributor and manufacturer, and we look forward to pursuing the case against the remaining defendants,” he said.

Williams' lawsuit also names Beemiller Inc., an Ohio firearms manufacturer, and MKS Supply Inc., a wholesale firearms distributor in Ohio. Thursday's decision doesn't dismiss his lawsuit against the companies.

The major philosophical difference in viewing the law is that of linking causation with responsibility.

Those who want an unarmed population see firearms as causing harm due to the existence of firearms.  They transfer volition from people to inanimate objects. They use Orwellian language to say people are harmed by firearms, instead of with firearms.

This tactic is fundamentally different from lawsuits that claim a defect in a product caused harm.

Where a defective product causes harm, the product did not work as it was designed (and reasonably expected) to.

When a criminal points a gun at a person and pulls the trigger, if the gun fires, the gun is acting as it was designed to. The gun manufacturer has no control over the volition of the person who has possession of the gun at any particular time.

To a person who has chosen to be unarmed, the choice is simple. Get rid of as many guns as possible, in as many ways as possible. To them, this makes sense, because they do not own guns or expect to own guns. They see no cost to them, personally.

The cost to the greater society is enormous, because of the precedent set. A person may be sued; a company bankrupted, an industry destroyed – for producing legal products that functioned as they were designed to function.

Motor car companies could be sued for producing cars used by bank robbers, or mass killers who mow down crowds or use rental trucks as containers for bombs.

Banks could be sued for lending money to companies that produced fertilizer that was used to make bombs, and on and on. It is insanity.  It would mean that anyone who had any assets could eventually be sued for nearly anything that was perceived as a wrong in society.

It is just another aspect of Progressivism, Socialism, Marxism, Collectivism, Liberalism or any other “ism” that has no respect for property rights, individual rights, or the rule of law.

Traditional law and perspective are this:

  • Guns do not have volition.
  • People are harmed by other people, not by inanimate objects.

The novel legal theory attempted by the Brady Center is this:

  • Guns exist.
  • People are harmed because guns exist.
  • Therefore, the people who made the guns must pay.

Harming some people because a second set of people harmed a third set of people is wrong, and bad law. It is the heart of Progressivism, Socialism, the attempt to re-distribute wealth, envy, covetousness, and the attempt to make gun manufacturers responsible for the criminal actions of others.

It is based on emotion, on the desire that no one should ever be hurt or suffer loss.

It may make sense to have a social safety net that prevents people from suffering catastrophic harm through no fault of their own. It makes no sense to harm others, who were not responsible for the harm caused by a third party.

Democrat candidates Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Bernie Sanders have all pledged to work to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, (PLCAA).  I have no intent to slight other Democrat candidates who may have made the same pledge as the list would be too long to include here.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

  • 26 thoughts on “Attempted Undermining of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act ~ Williams v. Beemiller

    1. It seems if the court mandates the maker or seller of a gun liable then the maker of all objects used to cause injury to someone would be liable for any injury wherein the “object” was used. This would include a baseball, bat, knife, glass, beer bottle and the list goes on and on to include God knows what. I believe even the 9th Circus Court would find that ridiculous.

    2. Could it be that what we are seeing with the mentally impaired is the result of years of exposure to heavy metals such as nano sized particles of aluminum and barium ? There are existing patents whereby a persons brain is turned into an enhanced antenna by introducing those metal particles into it, and then broadcasting subliminal messages at the very wavelengths that the human brain functions at. Those patents fall into the category of “brainwashing technology”. As former Attorney General Eric Holder said way back in 1995, “We have to BRAINWASH Americans into thinking differently about guns”. Perhaps we should be talking to Jesse Ventura and Dr. Robert Duncan about the new brainwashing technologies called “The Voice of God Weapon”, aka “Voice To Skull Technology”. Just imagine if they could find a way to piggyback a subliminal into the audio of radio and TV ! Did you ever go into a store for a pack of gum and walk out with $100 worth of stuff you don’t need ?????

    3. According to progressives the law is what ever they need it to be at any given time. This flies along side of the red flag laws that come as a surprise to someone who has done nothing wrong. Gun manufacturers, car manufacturers and even rope manufacturers can’t predetermine what someone will do with the product. This opens a whole new avenue for ambulance chasers and get rich quick schemers. Totally backward of what it is supposed to be because progressive thinking is back ackwards. All of these lawsuits, even if not won, are going to cause the price of the product to go up because there is a cost to defense.

      1. The cost of the suit should be borne by those who bring frivolous suits to the court. The only problem is that many jurors are mentally deficient and unable to perceive the truth of the matter. Many jurors are put in the pool because they are known to have a low IQ, and thereby easily manipulated by slick Willy lawyers. And because cases such as this even get into a courtroom brings into question the mental capacity of the entire legal profession. It seems to me that they don’t give a whit about common sense and what should be settled law.

    4. If this lawsuit is allowed, then those who suffered loss or injury in Manhattan a while back MUST sue Ford Motor COmpany and Home Depot for the criminal misuse of HD’s rental truck, a Ford pickup, to kill eight and injure a handful more.

      NO ONE in their right mind would support such a lawsuit. So WHY, when we change the lethal Ford and its relevant supplier Home Depot for a firearm and its manufacturer and distributor do so many think its fine and dandy?

      Brainwashing, indeed.
      Find for Defendants, summery judgement with prejudice, then lay costs upon plaintiffs, specifically to include the Brady Brats. Or is thar barstids?

    5. What’s really sad is the co-conspirator prosecuting attorneys were fully aware that a legally sold gun does not violate the law, but criminal communist democrats do! And still, they tried to prosecute the case. WHEN are wegoing to start holding criminal lawyers accountable to the law?

    6. Good Article. SOOOooo! When all of the lawsuits are concluded and the sellers and makers are not held responsible for an ASSAULTER’S actions, CAN THE SELLERS AND MAKERS TURN AROUND AND SUE THE IDIOTS who brought this idiotic suit. They SHOULD be able to recoup ALL expenses; Time in court, lawyer fees, court fees, company run time shut-downs, retail sales lost, ETC., ETC..

    7. A standard tactic by the left is rule by judicial fiat. Because they cannot get their policies passed through legislation or the ballot box, they hope to find friendly courts which will legislate from the bench. You can also blame the trial lawyers, who never turn down a chance to profit not matter the laws or the cost to society.

      1. It’s called the communist democrat tactic of “lawfare”. Using ones own laws against the civilian populace in furtherance of communist goals, and democrat ideals!

    8. Conservatives and legal gun enthusiasts are by their nature a peaceful, non confrontational, law abiding and averse to activism, IMHO and other anecdotal evidence.
      We are fully aware of the ongoing fight to retain our gun rights, but because of our nature, as stated above, we are , for the most part unwilling to get involved in that fight or don’t know HOW to get into the fight.
      The solution for all you couch potatoes and keyboard commandos is : THROW MONEY AT IT, if you are REALLY serious about those rights!!!!
      Become an member of ANY of the local, State and National organizations ( or ALL of them ! )that are in the fight on your behalf, your proxy in the trenches!
      See how easy it is to join the fight?

    9. Using the same arguments of the Democrats, if the Democrats refuse to enforce legal immigration laws of this country and any illegal immigrants who are living in those safe haven cities or states then commit an illegal action against a citizen, does that harmed citizen then have the right to sue the state and city since they endorsed an illegal act?

    10. While I was reading about the guns I was thinking about cars and car makers and as I read I saw the writer apply the same logic. If a person would just apply common sense to these issues there wouldn’t be one but expecting democrats and libs to have common sense is illogical. That does not compute in thier highly educated brains and this is a perfect example. Must sterilize.

      1. Along those lines; the local news reported on a toddler who stepped on the window button in his parents car trapping his head and neck. He was only saved by CPR preformed by someone on site. I don’t recall the exact number of children killed and or injured yearly but it seemed astronomical and was probably higher than kids killed and or injured by firearms. Therefore it seems that it would be prudent to ban electric windows in automobiles. “IF IT SAVES JUST ONE CHILD” . Our ancestors seemed to get along just fine with out electric windows . In the case of a submerged car the old window crank would work 100% of the time.

        1. In the case of a submerged car the old window crank would work only if the pressure differential inside & outside the sinking car had not put too much pressure & friction onto the window slides. Power or crank or opening the door must be done quickly. Usually, after pressure equalizes, even power windows will work for a while. See the Mythbusters episode.

    11. This is a well crafted article and gets to the root of the problem. The root of the problem is progressive/socialist thinking, or lack thereof. Blaming inanimate objects for the criminal actions of people absolves criminals of responsibility. Blame society. That kind of reasoning is destroying our nation from within. And folks, that is the whole idea. Progressives, socialists and communists have been trying to incrementally destroy America for nearly 140 years. These are the fingerprints. Cases like these show their handiwork. Be aware and support those who fight back.

    12. Would not the past sales of Bump Stocks fall under the same outlying protections? Bump Stocks were made, sold, purchased, possessed and used legally for over a decade via Commerce WITH the blessing of the ATF.

      Now that same agency claims the predicate to ban bump stocks is due to the “alleged” criminal act of a lone Las Vegas shooter, YET it recently responds to a FOIA request that it has no records of bump stocks being used in a criminal act??

      Notwithstanding, it pulls its blessing decades later retroactively, erasing it as never happened, making once legal commerce into illegal commerce with criminal penalties attached, (threat of monetary fine and incarceration if the once legal product is not destroyed or turned in)!

      Pass the smell test, you decide?

    13. @Dean, You have done a good job of pointing out how our enemies within subtly change the language, so that they can change the way that we think, for the purpose of getting their way.

      1. It’s called Brainwashing through power of suggestion, along with reinterpretations of words and terms, something that has been used historically across time.

        1. Exacto-mundo! Like using the communist term “democracy”, instead of “representative republic”, or Rule of Law (communism) instead of what we have in the U.S., which is Rule of CONSTITUTIONAL Law!

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