Liberal Democrats Threaten
Filibuster of Gun Suit Bill
Capitol Hill -- Six liberal Senate Democrats
have threatened to filibuster a bill that would prohibit lawsuits
against gun makers, dealers, sellers and importers for the illegal
actions of criminals who misuse their products.
An identical bill blocking such suits has already
passed the House of Representatives by a two-to-one vote, and the
Senate proposal already had 52 cosponsors when it was introduced.
"We're going to work and do all we can to make
sure that this legislation does not become law," Sen. Jack
Reed (D-R.I.) warned.
"We're preparing for the possibility of a filibuster,"
he added. "I'm not sure we have 41 votes yet. I am sure that
they don't have 60 votes yet."
Reed and other opponents claim the Protection
of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (S. 659).would make it all but
impossible to sue a gun manufacturer, distributor, dealer or importer
regardless of what rules, regulations or laws they violate.
"I particularly want to thank my colleagues
for joining me here today as we stand up in opposition to unprecedented
legislation that would give the gun industry immunity from civil
liability," Reed said.
His colleague, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.),
echoed that characterization of the bill.
"If this legislation passes, a family could
go to court over defects in a toy gun but not a real gun,"
"This bill, with narrow exceptions, would essentially
give the gun industry blanket immunity from civil liability cases,"
added Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
The proposal is also opposed by Senate Democrats
Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and
Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
"The lawsuits that would be barred by this
bill include product liability and unsafe gun design cases, negligent
distribution and deceptive marketing," Feinstein added.
Supporters of the bill merely point to its language
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act specifically
lists the types of lawsuits that would not be prohibited, including
Physical injuries or property damage resulting
directly from a design or manufacturing defect of the gun [product
liability], when used as intended;
Negligence, including negligently distributing
a gun to someone the seller knew or should have known was likely
to and did use the gun "in a manner involving unreasonable
risk of physical injury;" and
Willfully violating state or federal law
regulating the sale or marketing of a gun, if that violation was
the cause of the injury for which relief is sought.
In fact, the only lawsuits not allowed by
the legislation are those "brought by any person against a
manufacturer or seller of a [gun], or a trade association, for damages
resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a [gun]"
by the recipient or any third party.
Ted Novin, spokesman for the National
Rifle Association, is not surprised by what he called the
senators' "misrepresentation" of the bill.
"The senators have either not read the proposed
legislation, or they are intentionally misleading the American people
about this common sense measure," Novin said. "Given Dianne
Feinstein and Chuck Schumer's disdain for the Second Amendment rights
of all law-abiding Americans, I'm inclined to believe it's the latter."
Many Second Amendment supporters believe the lawsuits
that would be banned under the proposal - filed against gun makers
rather than the criminals who misuse their products or against gun
dealers rather than private citizens who leave their firearms accessible
to children - are an attempt to bankrupt the firearms industry,
imposing by default the gun ban on Americans that the senators have
tried but been unable to achieve through legislation.
Noting that there has been a flurry of such lawsuits
whose sole aim has been to bankrupt the gun industry, supporters
of the bill explained that at least 33 municipalities, counties
and states have sued gunmakers since 1998, with many claiming that
manufacturers allowed weapons to reach criminals because of irresponsible
marketing, the Washington
Chris Cox, the NRA's chief lobbyist, told
the Washington Times that the bill is aimed at protecting legal
manufacturers from being held responsible for the illegal actions
of criminals. "It doesn't protect those who break state or
federal laws," he said. "It doesn't close the door to
anyone" filing claims against wrongdoers.
Passing the gun manufacturers' liability bill was
the NRA's top legislative priority this year, Cox explained. The
liability bill is one of a few gun-related issues to arise in a
Congress where gun-control advocates, faced with a Republican president
and a GOP-controlled House and Senate, are on the defensive.
On another gun issue, the Times notes that President
Bush has given his "qualified support for extending the
10-year ban on assault weapons enacted in a 1994 law,' but House
Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, has warned Democrats
they would not have the votes in the House for any attempt to expand
the weapons listed under the ban.
Gunblast readers, this
is a call to arms!
If any of you are unfortunate enough to be constituents
of the above-named Senators, contact
them IMMEDIATELY and express your support for the 2nd Amendment.
It'll probably be like talking to a fencepost at best, but if they
hear from a significant number of constituents they'll start to
worry about saving their sorry hides!
The rest of us need to contact
our Senators as well to let them know where we stand on
the issue. If your Senators are supporters of the Constitution,
as our Tennessee Senators thankfully are, let them know that you
appreciate their support! If your Senators are "fence-sitters",
let them know that you'll fire them if they come down on the wrong
side of this critical issue.
Last, but certainly not least, if you are
not a member of the NRA, JOIN
NOW! If you are a current NRA member, thank you!
Renew your membership, upgrade
your membership, and donate to the cause. Without the NRA, our
firearms freedoms would be LONG GONE. The NRA is our "muscle"
and our voice in Washington, and they need our full support!