SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Gunmakers would be held responsible for dangerous marketing that contributes to gun violence under new legislation introduced by state Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview.
“In 2020, guns surpassed traffic fatalities as the leading cause of death for children in the U.S. In 2023 alone, there were 58 unintentional shootings by children,” said Gong-Gershowitz. “Gun manufacturers enjoy a special immunity under federal law: they can legally market an insurrection to white supremacist groups like the Proud Boys and pink assault weapons to children too young to own one. HB218 is designed to hold gun manufacturers accountable and ensure families devastated by gun violence have a path to justice in Illinois civil court.”
Marketing campaigns sponsored by gun manufacturers often depict wanton violence, a weapon’s ability to cause egregious bodily harm, and glorification of extreme paramilitary behaviors, effectively promoting violent criminal activity. Recently, an Illinois gunmaker began marketing a “JR-15,” a smaller version of the notorious AR-15 rifle but designed for children.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting, courts found that parents have a reasonable claim against a gun manufacturer that engages in deceptive marketing campaigns promoting “illegal offensive use of the rifle.”
House Bill 218 would empower victims of gun violence to bring civil legal action against gun manufacturers in cases when firearm advertising contributes to illegal shootings. This legislation is the result of months of work by the House Firearms Safety and Reform Working Group in concert with stakeholders and representatives of the Senate and the Illinois Attorney General’s office.