Hawaii is on course to join a growing list of states that allow gun companies to be sued in court. The move comes as part of a broader push to increase gun control measures across the nation.
The Hawaii state House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday that would allow individuals to sue gun companies for negligence. If the bill passes the state Senate, it will be the fourth state to allow such lawsuits, joining California, Connecticut and New York.
The legislation, introduced by Democratic Rep. Matt LoPresti, would allow victims of gun violence or their families to sue gun manufacturers, distributors and sellers that fail to exercise “reasonable care” in the design, manufacture, marketing or sale of a firearm.
Under the proposal, gun companies found guilty of negligence could be required to pay damages to victims or their families. It would also allow for punitive damages to be collected in cases where the negligent conduct was particularly egregious.
The bill is part of a growing effort across the country to increase gun control measures. In the wake of mass shootings in recent years, states have passed a range of laws, including expanding background checks, banning bump stocks and allowing for the confiscation of guns from individuals deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
The Hawaii bill is expected to face stiff opposition in the state Senate, where Republicans hold a majority. Even if it passes, it is likely to face a court challenge. The National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups have argued that such lawsuits are unconstitutional, as they would limit the ability of gun companies to do business.
Still, proponents of the bill argue that it would provide an important avenue of recourse for victims of gun violence and their families. They point to research that suggests that gun companies have not done enough to make their products safer, and that they should be held accountable for the damage their products can cause.
The push for increased gun control measures has been a major issue in the 2020 election cycle, with many Democratic presidential candidates calling for tighter restrictions. If the Hawaii bill passes, it could set a precedent for other states to follow, and could potentially lead to a broader national effort to allow gun companies to be held accountable in court.