After Uvalde Civil Suits Test Firearms Industry Immunity

January 1, 2023 | By Shane Phelps Law
After Uvalde Civil Suits Test Firearms Industry Immunity

The Uvalde, Texas shooting in May of 2022 has sparked a new wave of lawsuits against gun manufacturers. The family of one of the victims is now suing Daniel Defense, the maker of the AR-15 used in the attack. This case will be an important test for the firearms industry's immunity protections granted by Congress in 2005.

Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) was passed by Congress to protect firearm manufacturers from civil liability for criminal misuse of their products. These lawsuits argued that gun companies should be held responsible for crimes committed with their products. This law has been controversial since its passage, and many have argued that it gives gun makers too much protection from legal action.

The PLCAA grants broad immunity to firearms manufacturers, dealers, and sellers from lawsuits related to the criminal misuse of firearms. It protects them from civil actions seeking damages for the harm caused by the criminal use of firearms or ammunition, except under certain limited circumstances.

While the PLCAA provides significant protection, it includes exceptions where immunity does not apply. These exceptions include cases where the manufacturer or seller knowingly violated federal or state laws regarding the sale or marketing of firearms, cases involving defective firearms or ammunition, and cases where the seller knowingly transferred a firearm to someone they knew or should have known was prohibited from possessing a firearm.

While PLCAA provides some protection from civil liability, it does not address other issues such as background checks or age restrictions on purchasing firearms. It is up to state and federal governments to create laws that ensure firearms are sold responsibly and safely.

The Lawsuit

The Uvalde lawsuit is one of several cases challenging PLCAA's broad immunity provisions. The suit alleges that Daniel Defense marketed its weapons to troubled and potentially dangerous individuals, which could be seen as negligent behavior on their part. If successful, this case could set a precedent for future cases involving gun manufacturers and their responsibility for criminal misuse of their products.

The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which grants immunity to gun manufacturers from most lawsuits related to the criminal use of their products.

The lawsuit's central argument is that the PLCAA shields gun manufacturers from liability, making it difficult for victims of gun violence to seek justice. The plaintiffs hope that a successful legal challenge could lead to changes in the law, potentially allowing victims to hold manufacturers accountable for their role in firearms-related incidents.

The Lawsuit and Texas Possession Laws

While the lawsuit addresses gun manufacturer immunity, it also parallels an ongoing discussion regarding gun possession. Texas, known for its strong support for the Second Amendment, has some of the most lenient gun laws in the United States. This article provides a detailed examination of the key elements of Texas's gun possession laws.

Ownership and Purchase Laws

In Texas, adults aged 18 or older can purchase rifles, shotguns, and ammunition without any permit. The age limit increases to 21 years for handguns. There are no state requirements for registration or licensing of firearms. However, federal law requires background checks for all transactions conducted through licensed dealers.

Open Carry Laws

The state of Texas allows open carry of long guns (rifles and shotguns) without a license. However, for open carry of handguns, a License to Carry (LTC) is required. To acquire this license, applicants must meet several requirements including age, residency, and lack of felony convictions, among others.

Concealed Carry Laws

In Texas, concealed carry also requires an LTC. The same rules and requirements apply as with open carry. As of September 1, 2021, House Bill 1927 allows people 21 years and older who can legally possess firearms to carry them concealed or openly without a permit, except in certain locations.

Prohibited Places

Even with an LTC, there are certain locations where firearms are prohibited in Texas. These include schools, polling places, courts, racetracks, airport security zones, and within 1,000 feet of premises designated as a place of execution on the day of execution.

Prohibited Persons

Certain individuals are prohibited from owning or possessing firearms under Texas law. These include convicted felons (until five years after release or parole), people under protective orders, and individuals convicted of domestic violence.


The outcome of the lawsuit could have significant implications for the gun industry and the legal protections afforded to gun manufacturers. It highlights the ongoing debate surrounding gun control and the balance between industry immunity and the rights of victims seeking legal recourse.

Please remember that while Texas laws are lenient, federal laws still apply and can impose additional restrictions or requirements. Always ensure you are compliant with both state and federal laws when purchasing, carrying, or using firearms.

If you have been accused of illegal possession, contact Shane Phelps Law.