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It’s just a bill: The Protecting Heartbeats Act

Tuesday, Sep 28, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Today, State Representative Margaret Croke (IL-12) introduced HB4156, a bill to protect Illinoisans from gun violence and hold those putting more guns onto our streets accountable. The Protecting Heartbeats Act will allow Illinois residents to take civil action against gun manufacturers, importers, and dealers whose firearms are responsible for injury or death in the state.

“Too many Illinoisans die each year from senseless gun violence and we need to be doing everything in our power to keep people safe and prevent more guns from flooding into our communities,” said State Representative Margaret Croke. “In its ruling in Texas, the Supreme Court allowed citizens to take civil action against anyone in violation of the law. Our state has the opportunity to employ this same logic to hold gun manufacturers, importers, and dealers accountable for their actions and stop preventable tragedies from taking the lives of more Illinoisans.”

Everytown for Gun Violence, a leading gun violence prevention organization, estimates that 1,363 Illinoisans die of gun violence every year. From 2009 to 2018, the rate of gun deaths in Illinois increased by 32%, compared to 18% in the same time period nationwide. Illinois has the 9th highest rate of gun homicides in the country, and Black people are 34 times as likely to die by gun homicide as white people, compared to just 10 times nationwide. Everytown also says that firearms are the number one leading cause of death among children and teens in Illinois.

A recent report from the Chicago Tribune, which found that one single gun was responsible for 27 shootings and an untold amount of damage to Chicagoans and their loved ones in just a 20 month period, includes research that estimates the cost of just one gunshot injury is over $1 million. These costs include medical expenses, the earning power of a victim, the loss of business to the affected community, and more.

Under the Protecting Heartbeats Act, any Illinois resident other than a state or local government officer or employee may bring a civil action against a gun manufacturer, importer or dealer whose gun is responsible for bodily injury or death. If the claimant wins the suit, the court will award injunctive relief and damages of no less than $10,000 for each person injured or killed by the firearm manufactured, imported or dealt by the liable party.

The bill is here.

…Adding… Sun-Times

But Richard Pearson, the head of the Illinois State Rifle Association, doesn’t think going after manufacturers is the way to curb the gun violence the state is seeing.

Pearson called the measure a “terrible bill” because the state “can’t control” what people do with guns or anything else.

He equated the measure to people suing farmers for accidents after agronomists sell their corn to an elevator that in turn sells the grain to a company that makes alcohol, which is “ridiculous.”

None of the gun laws already on the books in the U.S. will “stop criminal activity, no matter what you do, because criminals want to be criminals,” Pearson said.

“The only thing that has worked in the past is — when you get crime rates to drop — you put more police on the streets, you take the criminals who get caught, and you convict them and you put them in jail for a long time and people decide to stop doing bad stuff, but, until you do that, right now it’s just going the opposite way, like a revolving door,” Pearson said. “It’s a pretty terrible system right now.”

More react at the link.


  1. - We've never had one before - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 10:25 am:

    Will the ISRA be opposed? Or Neutral?

  2. - Dan Johnson - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 10:30 am:

    Fantastic idea. Maybe this will help force them to install those fingerprint triggers so only the authorized buyer can use the gun.

    Good for Rep Croke.

  3. - Roman - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 10:39 am:

    This is actually a pretty sound idea. The lower burden of proof in civil court could give gun dealers who sell to straw purchasers pause.

    Unfortunately, tying it to the Texas abortion law undermines the effort. Is this about public policy or “owning” the conservatives? Call me a kill joy, but snark and gun violence don’t mix very well.

  4. - Amalia - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 10:43 am:

    wish we could regulate guns like other consumer products.

  5. - O-Man - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 10:44 am:

    Hammers, too? Or just guns? How about holding the actor liable in civil court. This will go nowhere.

  6. - The Opinions Bureau - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 10:45 am:

    Once again, ISRA demonstrates they speak for the gun industry and not responsible gun owners.

    Plentiful and cheap guns on the illegal market mean disputes that might otherwise be settled with fists are settled with bullets. Gun manufacturers and dealers need to step up and be part of the solution.

  7. - Watcher of the Skies - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 10:45 am:

    Isn’t this barred by federal law?

  8. - Al - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 10:52 am:

    Can we do this with liquor companies too?

  9. - Anyone Remember - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 10:54 am:

    Richard Pearson, Chris Southwood. Chris, Richard. /s

  10. - thisjustinagain - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 10:54 am:

    The proposed law conflicts with Federal law, but that never bothers Illinois legislators. Let’s keep blaming law-abiding owners, dealers, and manufacturers for the acts of criminals, because that’s worked so well.

  11. - Mason born - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 10:59 am:

    Same bad idea that Texas came up with. It was a bad idea then a bad idea now. Preposterous reach for political headlines.

    I suspect the whole scheme of letting John Q. Public do the enforcing will be struck down sometime relatively soon.

  12. - Red Ranger - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 11:02 am:

    Ohhhh snap, she owned them.

    And the members of the General Assembly wonder why Chicago Magazine writes the stories they do.

  13. - Jocko - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 11:12 am:

    ==Let’s keep blaming law-abiding owners, dealers, and manufacturers==

    Like Thomas Caldwell? Jeffrey Reinking?

  14. - Guaranteed Rater - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 11:18 am:

    The Gun keyboard heroes are out in these streets today. Replace all of the defenses they offer by striking “gun” or “second amendment” with “reproductive health” and you have the same argument against the Texas law. That they didn’t bother to make. Goose, gander.

  15. - Donnie Elgin - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 11:27 am:

    “Like Thomas Caldwell? Jeffrey Reinking?”

    There are pending charges against both of these individuials.

  16. - Chief Ten Beers - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 11:27 am:

    - Jeffrey Reinking? -

    Always cherry picking an extreme example, sad.

    This is already barred by federal law and should be. Do we throw the drunk driver in jail or sue anheuser-busch and Ford?

    Amalia, they already are against defects like any other product, but not for misuse. I think my toaster warranty would be null and void if I plugged it in and threw it in the wife’s bathtub.

  17. - Mason born - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 11:33 am:

    Guaranteed Rater

    I suspect if these bills were flipped flopped in order with SCOTUS passing on a TRO on this bill we’d see the same thing but in different jerseys. It’s the sad state of politics that as long as my ox isn’t being gored who cares about the repercussions.

  18. - Dan Johnson - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 11:57 am:

    Put a fingerprint lock on your guns.

  19. - H-W - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 11:58 am:

    Given that there are only a couple manufacturers who produce the tools used by thousands of murderers each and every year, it is an interesting proposition to suggest the manufacturers bear responsibility for the deaths of thousands of people annually.

    On the other hand, I have never been a fan of “this-for-that” sort of legislation. If the first act is immoral because it violates civil liberties regarding access to health care for the purpose of abortion, then the second act is also immoral in that it violates the freedom of individuals to produce some commodities that have multiple useful purposes, because some others use those commodities for evil.

  20. - It's all nanners - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 12:14 pm:

    @Roman - I agree the snark doesn’t help her cause. And I highly doubt the civil suit would get traction anyway. It’s amazing that all of the laws introduced always target the gun owners, manufacturers, etc. Chicago has how many gun laws? They don’t seem to be working. But maybe if we just add one more it might just maybe kinda be enough to curb the violence?
    No laws ever seem to address the underlying cause of the epidemic of gun violence: poverty. And mental health issues are probably a close second. I get it that guns are a very effective way to commit violence. But there are more guns in our country than people. Good luck putting that cat back in the bag. I’d love to see a bill that tries to prioritize middle class job creation in the most heavily affected communities. Maybe creating some economic and domestic stability can put a dent in the violence. And after that maybe kids can worry more about school. But more laws regulating guns and gun ownership hasn’t worked yet… anywhere. I don’t see how targeting the manufacturers will work. If I drive my car into a crowd can Ford be sued? Idk. Maybe I’m wrong.

  21. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 12:15 pm:

    This bill, and others like it, mirror the “clever” workaround of the Texas anti-abortion bill for a very important reason. Should conservative judges uphold the legal work-around in the Texas law, they will need to live with these bills/laws as well. They serve to show that the Texas law is not tenable and sets a bad precedent.

  22. - Huh? - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 12:34 pm:

    “Protecting Heartbeats Act”

    Saw the headline and thought “abortion”. Would never had made connection to guns without reading the post.

  23. - A Jack - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 12:41 pm:

    This bill makes much more sense and is more likely to pass than that grandstanding Texas Act of Cassidy.

  24. - Elmer Keith - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 12:43 pm:

    “…ISRA demonstrates they speak for the gun industry and not responsible gun owners.” If you wish to get Richard Pearson’s favorite tripe correct, “law abiding gun owners” is his favorite phrase. Which actually means, “white people who live in small towns outside of Cook County.

    It’s too early to predict if Pearson and ISRA will sell out on this bill like they did on Brandon Phelps’ concealed carry bill, but the day is young. On the bright side, NRA is bankrupt and fired IL contract lobbyist Todd Vandermyde, so they can’t backstab their own members too badly.

  25. - The Captain - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 12:44 pm:

    I think the organization they were attempting to refer to is “Everytown for Gun Safety”.

  26. - Suburban Mom - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 1:04 pm:

    Love watching people pretend like consumer products are completely unable to be regulated, while the CPSC withdraws entire classes of baby products from the market for 6 deaths over 20 years.

    You can just say, “Yes, we know that if gun manufacturers faced routine liability, if gun safety data was collected and studied, if insurers could refuse gun owners or properly price the additional risk, if gun owners had to carry accident and liability insurance, nobody would be able to afford to have a gun, or they’d at least cost the same as a car. Therefore we’ve created enormous carve-outs in the law to protect these companies in the marketplace, as we are aware that if they were forced to participate in a fair and transparent market, they would completely collapse.”

    No, no, just say the thing about how nobody should sell hammers because you can whack someone in the head with a hammer, as if tradesmen don’t carry liability insurance and as if hammer manufacturers can’t be sued for dangerous products. And then follow that up by insisting that guns have uses other than being machines for more efficient killing. We’re all definitely dazzled by your rhetorical skill.

  27. - Blue Dog - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 1:45 pm:

    With the lawlessness prevalent in our state you would think the super majority party would try something else. The super majority party owns.

  28. - Roman - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 1:48 pm:

    @It’s all nanners

    I don’t think it’s practical and probably not legal to go after manufacturers. However, creating a civil right of action has promise if applied to straw purchasing of weapons — which is a major contributor to gun violence in Chicago that goes largely unchecked.

    There are a lot of gun dealers who know darn well they are selling to straw purchasers, but they engage in willful ignorance to make a quick buck. The burden of proof is high in criminal court, so they often get away with it. Opening both straw buyers and sellers to civil litigation could create a financial disincentive to participate in the practice.

    Again, this is something that is worthy of a serious debate — unfortunately the bill sponsor is more interested in show business.

  29. - Chief Ten Beers - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 1:52 pm:

    SM- you are confusing misuse with defective, but we all know the game. You can’t eliminate the 2nd amendment so you either try to make gun ownership prohibitively expensive or sue the manufacturers out of business and ban imports which dries up supply. Same game, different players.

  30. - Todd - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 2:54 pm:

    I agree with Nanners and their take. this tit for tat because Texas did something on abortion that offends the sponsor’s and lefts beliefs simple degrades the system we have.

    Yet Miss Croke seems to have failed the basics of Con Law/ tort law. There is a federal statute that prevents these types of suits. It was just this sort of thing that led to that and the never ending litigation, not based upon defective products, Remington has been sued over that, but the fact they can’t get their way with legislation so lets bankrupt them with litigation and lawyers fees.

    Our own Supreme Court said no in 2002. And there is a history of case law about manufacturers being sued for the acts of third parties…

    “We have found no Illinois case recognizing a public right to be free from the threat that members of the public may commit crimes against individuals.”

    “If the act of a third party is the immediate cause of the injury and is such as in the exercise of reasonable diligence would not be anticipated and the third person is not under the control of the one guilty of the original wrong, the connection is broken and the first act or omission is not the proximate cause of the injury.   There may be more than one proximate cause of an injury.   But if two wholly independent acts, by independent parties, neither bearing to the other any relation or control, cause an injury by one creating the occasion or condition upon which the other operates, the act or omission which places the dangerous agency in operation is the efficient intervening cause that breaks the causal connection and makes the other act or omission the remote and not the proximate cause of the injury.”

    This bill is a press release, and a way to show they care and are doing something even if its just killing more trees to print their copy.

    Dan — guns are mechanical devices. I want mine to do one thing — go bang when I pull the trigger. Keep your gimmicks and tech out and off my guns. I want them to work, not lock up like a computer or your phone.

    Suburban mom — hate to break this to you but guns are regulated. By the state, by the feds and even via litigation for product liability. They just are not regulated in the manner you wish to avoid the legislative discussion and have a faceless bureaucracy set up rules and laws that have no bearing on the issue, by people who know little about guns.

  31. - Thomas Paine - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 3:22 pm:

    @Todd -

    Its a different court than it was in Illinois in 2002.

    Also, the 2002 found “no case”, if Croke’s bill passes, they wont need case law, they will have statute, statute which states there is a public policy interest.

    I imagine CA, NJ and NY will see similar legislation soon.

  32. - david ferris - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 3:35 pm:

    a gun does not fire itself. this act will not hold up in court on appeal. if a gun is defective I can see a lawsuit but if the gun operates as designed you will have a hard fight in court to hold a manufacturer responsible for a product that works as designed.

  33. - It's all nanners - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 8:11 pm:

    @Roman - I’m 100% with you on going after straw sellers and purchasers. But I’m not sure how much of an overall impact it would have. Demand creates the market. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

  34. - We've never had one before - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 10:47 pm:

    This is not Croke’s first irrational gun bill, she also has one calling for “registration”.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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