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Am J Public Health. 2007 Nov;97(11):1991-7. Epub 2007 Sep 27.

Availability of litigation as a public health tool for firearm injury prevention: comparison of guns, vaccines, and motor vehicles.

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  • 1Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Center for Gun Policy and Research, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md 21205, USA.


The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), enacted in 2005, grants the firearm industry broad immunity from liability. The PLCAA not only prevents most people from receiving compensation for their firearm-related injuries, it erodes litigation's ability to serve its public health role of providing manufacturers with a financial incentive to make their products safer. When the viability of the vaccine industry was threatened in the 1980s, Congress provided limited protection from liability and also established the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The liability of nearly all other products, for example motor vehicles, is governed by traditional common law principles. The absence of both litigation and product safety rules for firearms is a potentially dangerous combination for the public's health.

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