May 12, 2023 – Last week, Democratic Senators Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren joined Democratic representative Robin Kelly and introduced the “Firearm Safety Act of 2023.” The Bill is deceptively short, with a mere eleven lines of text, but could have far reaching consequences for the firearms industry.
If enacted, this Bill would remove the firearms exemption from the laws that empower the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This would allow the CPSC to regulate the firearms industry, including:
- Mandating product recalls for firearms;
- Setting minimum safety standards for firearms and ammunition;
- Collecting data on gun-related deaths and injuries; and
- Requiring warning labels on firearms and ammunition.
Minimum safety standards could include requiring external manual safeties, loaded chamber indicators, micro-stamping or even “smart gun” technologies.
While the sponsors of the proposed law claim that firearms are subject to fewer “safety regulations” than teddy bears, washing machines and cars, they conveniently ignore the stringent laws and regulations that firearms manufacturers must adhere to at the federal and state levels. Furthermore, the CPSC is ill equipped to implement safety regulations for a range of products that include a “substantial risk of injury” by design if misused.
It is easy to see how political forces could use the CPSC to promote gun-control efforts, or mandate the use of unproven technologies to regulate the firearms industry. The creation of many new regulations impossible to navigate could also impact the viability of the federal immunity law (PLCAA), since failing to follow CPSC regulations could potentially qualify as a “predicate” violation of federal law and provide a tailor-made exception to PLCAA’s protection.
Fortunately for the firearms industry, the Bill is performative politics. The Bill is all but dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled House, and is surely a target for a Republican filibuster in the Senate (if Senate Democrats could even muster enough votes with their razor thin majority to bring the law to a floor vote).
Whether or not the law is likely to pass, it demonstrates the inventive lengths to which anti-gun politicians will go to pass gun control laws in new and unexpected ways. Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor new and developing firearms legislation and regulation around the country. If you have any questions concerning firearms related legislation or regulations, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.