June 3, 2023

President Joe Biden speaks during a gun control event in the Rose Garden at the White House on April 8, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden signed executive orders to prevent gun violence and announced his election of David Chipman as head of the alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives bureau.

Alex Wong | Getty Images

President Joe Biden said Thursday that getting Congress to end gun manufacturers’ broad immunity for being sued for shootings is a top priority for his administration.

“Most people don’t know that the only industry in America, the billion-dollar industry that can’t be sued, is guns,” Biden said during a speech at the White House in which he announced a number of senior executives to take measures to reduce it the violence of arms.

“Imagine how different it would be if tobacco companies that knew about the danger they were causing and lied were given the same exemption,” Biden said when calling on Congress to protect the arms industry from civil liability claims withdraw.

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Biden spoke on the day a gunman killed five people in South Carolina, one of four mass shootings in the United States in the past three weeks. The others were in Georgia, Colorado, and California.

In 2005, Congress passed the Law to Protect the Legal Arms Trade, which gave arms manufacturers significant immunity from pecuniary claims by victims of gun violence and their families.

“When I have one thing on my list, Lord would come down and say, ‘Joe, you get one of these,’ give me this,” said Biden.

“Because I’m telling you something, there would be a moment when these people would come to the Lord, very quickly.”

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki later told reporters that Biden is calling on lawmakers in Congress to reintroduce previous bills to repeal the Protection Act.

A Pennsylvania appeals court ruled last September that the law was unconstitutional. The decision was the first by a court to conclude that the law violates the 10th Amendment. The ruling did not affect the nationwide application of the law.