“When guns are outlawed…”
About a year-and-a-half ago, as you might recall, I introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would have protected law-abiding gun dealers and manufacturers from being held responsible for the criminal actions of third parties. Unfortunately, I decided to vote against my own bill on the floor of the Senate when several unrelated gun-control amendments were tacked on, and the legislation was ultimately defeated because of them. However, most Idahoans agree this issue is too important to just give up, so it’s time for Round 2.
To most people, it makes sense that General Motors can’t be held responsible for the actions of drunk drivers, or that Louisville Slugger shouldn’t be sued if a criminal uses one of their bats to assault someone. To some trial lawyers and social activists, however, this logic does not apply to firearms dealers and manufacturers.
For the most part, anti-Second Amendment activists have not been successful in convincing lawmakers to follow their radical agenda of removing firearms from the hands of law-abiding citizens. Although the activists’ stated goal may be to reduce crime, a strong majority of Americans do not favor stricter gun control measures. I think they realize there is quite a bit of truth in the line, “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns.”
Because of this lack of legislative success, these activists have resolved to win through the courts what they cannot through the democratic, legislative process. Joined by cities who apparently refuse to crack down on their criminal element, the activists and trial lawyers sue gun dealers and manufacturers, even though there isn’t any proof to suggest that they have broken any law.
The firearms industry is not a mammoth industry swimming in cash. Many of these companies qualify as small businesses, and they don’t have the financial resources to pay to defend themselves against endless lawsuits. Even if they win every case, that still can cost millions of dollars in legal fees. Congress must take action before this industry, so vital to Americans of all stripes, including law enforcement and our men and women in the military, goes bankrupt and shuts down. It is no stretch to say this is a matter of national security.
Gun control groups tried to divert attention from the substance of this bill last year by complaining that I was the wrong person to introduce the bill, since I am a board member and life member of the NRA. It proved to be a bogus complaint. The NRA is not a defendant in any lawsuit that would be affected by this legislation. The NRA represents, and advocates on behalf of, individual firearms owners – not dealers or manufacturers. So they have no financial stake in the legislation.
It is also important to mention that victims will not be locked out of the courthouse. If a firearms dealer or manufacturer sells a gun to criminal, is negligent, or fails in some way to follow the law, this legislation would not protect them from prosecution or a civil suit. Makers of faulty products would not be exempted, either.
After November 2, 2004, it was clear that the chemistry of the Senate had changed. I am more confident than ever in the prospects for passage of S.397, the Protection of the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. That being said, I’m very encouraged to have the support of both Republicans and Democrats. This is commonsense legislation that will have broad support.
Just last week, the Senate approved the class-action reform bill with a strong majority of 72 senators supporting it on final passage. That was a strong signal that Americans have had enough of abusive lawsuits designed to line the pockets of trial lawyers or push a social agenda through the courts, rather than the halls of democracy. I agree, and I am happy to contribute to the solution and preserve our Second Amendment rights at the same time.
NOTE: To link directly to this release, please use the following address: http://craig.senate.gov/releases/ed021705a.htm .