This is a new bill in Hawaii: HB426
Establishes standards of conduct for firearm industry members. Authorizes any person who has suffered harm because of a firearm industry member’s violation of the standards of conduct to bring a civil action. Authorizes the attorney general or any county attorney or public prosecutor to bring a civil action against a firearm industry member for violation of standards of conduct.
The devil is in the details and the details are how the State of Hawaii defines the standards of conduct.
“Firearm—related product” means a firearm, ammunition, a firearm precursor part, a firearm component, or a firearm 10 accessory that meets any of the following conditions:
(1) The item is sold, made, or distributed in the State;
(2) The item is intended to be sold or distributed in the State; or
(3) The item is or was possessed in the State and it was reasonably foreseeable that the item would be possessed in the State.
“Reasonable controls” means reasonable procedures, acts, or practices that are designed, implemented, and enforced to do the following:
(1) Prevent the sale or distribution of a firearm-related product to a straw purchaser, a firearm trafficker, a person prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal or state law, or a person who the firearm industry member has reasonable cause to believe is at substantial risk of using a firearm-related product to harm themselves or another or of possessing or using a firearm—related product unlawfully;
(2) Prevent the loss or theft of a firearm-related product from the firearm industry member; and
(3) Ensure that the firearm industry member complies with all provisions of federal or state law and does not otherwise promote the unlawful manufacture, sale, possession, marketing, or use of a firearm-related product.
§134-B Firearm industry members; standards of conduct.
(a) It shall be a violation of this part for a firearm industry member to fail to comply with any requirement of this part.
(b) A firearm industry member shall:
(1) Establish, implement, and enforce reasonable controls;
(2) Take reasonable precautions to ensure that the firearm industry member does not sell, distribute, or provide to a downstream distributor a firearm-related product that is abnormally dangerous and likely to create an unreasonable risk of harm to public health and safety in the State; and
(3) Not engage in any conduct related to the sale or marketing of firearm—related products that is in violation of this chapter.
(c) For the purposes of this part, a firearm—related product shall not be considered abnormally dangerous and likely to create an unreasonable risk of harm to public health and safety based on a firearm’s inherent capacity to cause injury or lethal harm.
(d) There shall be a presumption that a firearm-related product is abnormally dangerous and likely to create an unreasonable risk of harm to public health and safety if any of the following is true:
(1) The firearm—related product’s features render the product most suitable for assaultive purposes instead of lawful self-defense, hunting, or other legitimate sport and recreational activities;
(2) The firearm—related product is designed, sold, or marketed in a manner that foreseeably promotes the conversion of legal firearm-related products into illegal firearm—related products; or
(3) The firearm—related product is designed, sold, or marketed in a manner that is targeted at minors or other individuals who are legally prohibited from accessing firearms.
Hawaii has effectively codified the Sandy Hook case into law. If they decide that the way a firearm is marketed is attractive to children or prohibited persons, that is a violation of the law and makes gun companies liable.
They also say that “features render the product most suitable for assaultive purposes,” i.e., what they typically try to ban as assault rifle features, make the firearm abnormally dangerous and therefore make gun companies liable. It doesn’t matter if these features are standard for a multitude of guns legal in a majority of states, Hawaii considers them abnormally dangerous.
Tie this together with the part of the bill that says “Take reasonable precautions to ensure that the firearm industry member does not sell, distribute, or provide to a downstream distributor a firearm-related product that is abnormally dangerous.” A gun maker makes parts, those parts go to distributors and retailers. Somebody buys a pistol grip or a barrel shroud or something else and puts it on their gun in Hawaii. That, the way I am reading this, makes the gun company liable. The gun company didn’t take reasonable precautions to stop a part that somehow magically makes the gun more assaultive from getting to a Hawaiian customer, and therefore can be sued.
Here is where this bill really turns to shit:
§134-C Violations; who may sue; relief.
(a) An act or omission by a firearm industry member in violation of this part shall constitute an actionable cause of action.
(b) A person who has suffered harm in the State because of a firearm industry member’s violation of this part may bring an action in a court of competent jurisdiction.
(c) In addition to any lawsuit filed against a firearm owner pursuant to section 663-9.5, the attorney general or any county attorney or public prosecutor may bring a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction in the name of the people of the State to enforce this part and remedy harm caused by a violation of this part.
(f) If a rebuttable presumption is established pursuant to 21 subsection (e), the firearm industry member shall have the burden of showing through a preponderance of the evidence that the firearm industry member established, implemented, and enforced reasonable controls.
(g) An intervening act by a third party, including but not limited to criminal use of a firearm—related product, shall not preclude a firearm industry member from liability under this part.
The firearms manufacturer is assumed to be guilty and must prove their innocence that they took reasonable precautions.
Even if the gun was used illegally, and possibly obtained illegally, the firearm manufacturer is still liable.
Pretty much this bill exists to make it possible for Hawaii to use the attorney general to engage in state-funded lawfare against the firearms industry with the deck stacked against it. It is the antithesis of the PLCAA.
This bill will pass, the key will be it getting struck down.
Until then, brace for a flurry of bad faith lawsuits against gun makers.