Hillary Gets It!

HRC standing with us — November 1999

When we heard the news out of UCLA earlier this week — that yet another shooting had occurred at a place filled with students and young people — our minds flashed back, as they always do, to 1999. In August of that year, a neo-Nazi with an arsenal of weapons walked into a Jewish Community Center (JCC) in a Los Angeles suburb and started shooting. More then 70 rounds later, he had wounded five people, including our then 6-year-old son who was hit twice with bullets from a semiautomatic assault weapon. Later, the shooter murdered a Filipino-American postal worker.

After the incident, First Lady Hillary Clinton flew from Washington, DC to the JCC to meet with us and other affected families to offer comfort and to communicate the Administration’s commitment to reducing gun violence. The following year, when one million Americans gathered at Million Mom March rallies in Washington, DC and communities across the United States to demand sensible gun laws, Hillary was there to stand with us. Hillary got it!

The JCC shooter, who could not legally purchase firearms, took advantage of loopholes in our federal firearm laws to acquire them. In 2001, on behalf of our son, we and others affected by the shooting sued the manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of these weapons. The lawsuit claimed that they should be responsible for the damage caused not by their product but by their business practices. They created a public nuisance by knowingly manufacturing and distributing more weapons then could be sold on the legal market, thereby feeding the illegal market and promoting firearms trafficking.

The defendants sought, unsuccessfully, to have the case dismissed. Then the firearms industry sent their lobby, otherwise known as the National Rifle Association (NRA), to Congress — and Congress delivered. In 2005, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) to shield irresponsible and reckless gun manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits. The trial court was forced to dismiss almost all of the defendants from our case.

PLCAA puts industry profits over public safety, and provides protections that no other industry in America enjoys. Bernie Sanders helped to pass PLCAA and continues to justify his vote using the NRA’s talking points.

Congress has, at the behest of the corporate gun lobby, tied the hands of agencies like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission from regulating the firearm industry; and it has prevented the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from researching the causes of gun violence. What recourse is left for private citizens to hold bad corporate citizens responsible for the havoc they wreak on our society?

Hillary gets it! She voted against PLCAA and wants it repealed. She understands that it is not about punishing the industry for the way their product is used. Rather, it is about holding manufacturers, distributors and sellers accountable for their reckless and irresponsible business practices. Hillary Clinton has stood with us for more than 16 years and that’s why we’re standing with Hillary.