Giffords Applauds Colorado Senate for Passing the Gun Violence Victims’ Access to Justice Bill
Denver, CO — Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by the former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, lauded the Colorado State Senate for passing the Gun Violence Victims’ Access to Justice Bill. Giffords Law Center experts worked closely with lawmakers and partners in Colorado to advance and pass the bill. Colorado has a history of implementing common-sense gun reforms that have been shown to reduce gun violence and keep communities safer.
Nico Bocour, Giffords Vice President, State Initiatives:
“Today, the Colorado State Senate showed the courage to act. This bill is about giving gun violence victims justice in our legal system, reforming the dangerous levels of immunity and impunity Colorado’s laws provide to the gun industry. We are grateful to the Colorado Senate for demonstrating what is possible when people come together and stand up for what is right..”
Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, Survivors Empowered:
“We are incredibly thankful to see the Gun Violence Victims’ Access to Justice Bill pass the Colorado Senate. After our daughter Jessica was taken from us in the Aurora movie theater massacre, we sought justice but were instead punished under Colorado’s punitive immunity laws. This legislation will ensure that anyone who has to experience the pain of losing a loved one to gun violence isn’t punished and retraumatized when seeking justice.”
The Gun Violence Victims’ Access to Justice Bill would repeal Colorado’s extreme, anti-victim gun industry immunity law and create an opportunity for victims to seek fair justice in court when they are harmed by illegal and wrongful conduct by the corporate gun industry. Current Colorado law provides very broad immunity to the gun industry from many types of liability, slamming courtroom doors shut on cases even the federal gun industry immunity law (PLCAA) would allow. Even worse, Colorado is one of just 3 states in the country that forces victims who do try to sue the corporate gun industry to pay the corporation’s legal bills by default, punishing and bankrupting families just for daring to seek fair justice and corporate accountability in court. This legislation, the Gun Violence Victims’ Access to Justice and Firearm Industry Accountability Act would repeal Colorado’s extreme, anti-victim gun industry immunity law and allow victims to seek fair justice and accountability for gun manufacturers and dealers, accountability that every other industry is held to.
Sandy and Lonnie Phillips lost their daughter in the Aurora movie theater shooting. When they tried to hold the gun industry accountable, they lost their case and had to pay the legal fees of the defendants because of Colorado’s unjust law. Learn more about their story here.
BACKGROUND ABOUT GUN INDUSTRY IMMUNITY
- Colorado currently has an extreme law on the books that goes much farther than the federal gun industry immunity law and includes punitive anti-victim provisions that exist in only two other states.
- This current Colorado law provides very broad immunity to the gun industry from many types of liability. This state law has barred victims from bringing lawsuits even when the federal gun industry immunity law would allow them to go forward. This means that gun manufacturers, distributors, and sellers generally cannot be sued, even when victims can show that they were directly harmed by a gun industry member’s misconduct.
- Reforming Colorado’s industry immunity law is needed to protect future victims from bankruptcy and ensure victims of gun violence can seek fair justice in court. Reforming this law also levels the playing field for responsible businesses so the most aggressively irresponsible gun industry members don’t have a competitive advantage over businesses that take reasonable steps to protect the public.
- Colorado’s gun industry immunity law has been used to shield the industry from lawsuits by victims of gun violence and their families.
This bill would replace Colorado’s harmful gun industry immunity law with a new firearm industry standard of responsible business conduct and it would empower victims of gun violence to seek fair justice and compensation under this law if they can prove they were harmed by a specific industry member’s violation of that law.
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