GIFFORDS Lauds Colorado House for Passing The Jessi Redfield Ghawi Act for Gun Violence Victims’ Access to Justice and Firearms Industry Accountability
Denver, CO — GIFFORDS, the gun safety organization founded by the former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, lauded the Colorado State House for passing The Jessi Redfield Ghawi Act for Gun Violence Victims’ Access to Justice and Firearms Industry Accountability, newly named after Jessi Redfield Ghawi who was killed in the shooting at the movie theater in Aurora in 2012. GIFFORDS Law Center experts worked closely with Jessi’s parents Sandy and Lonnie Phillips along with lawmakers and partners in Colorado to advance and pass the bill and look forward to continuing to work with the bill sponsors and Governor’s office through conference and adoption into law. Colorado has a history of implementing commonsense gun reforms that have been shown to reduce gun violence and keep communities safer.
Nico Bocour, GIFFORDS Vice President, State Initiatives:
“It is critical that we empower victims of gun violence to hold the gun industry accountable for misconduct. The current gun industry immunity law has been used to shield bad actors and further harm victims of gun violence and their families. This bill will improve fairness for victims when seeking justice and help save lives by incentivizing responsible behavior by the industry. We are pleased to see the swift action taken by the Colorado House on this lifesaving legislation.”
Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, Survivors Empowered:
“After our daughter Jessica was taken from us in the Aurora movie theater massacre, we sought justice as any family would. Instead of compassion and action, we were punished under Colorado’s harsh and punitive immunity laws. We are grateful to the Colorado House for hearing our calls for justice and acting swiftly.”
The Jessi Redfield Ghawi Act for Gun Violence Victims’ Access to Justice and Firearms Industry Accountability 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 three states in the country that forces victims who 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.
Sandy and Lonnie Phillips lost their daughter Jessi 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—the gun manufacturer that sold the gun and ammunition to their daughter’s killer—because of Colorado’s unjust law. Learn more about their story.
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 move 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 if they can prove they were harmed by a specific industry member’s violation of the law.
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