Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Monday, August 01, 2005

Protecting the Second Amendment

by Senator Larry Craig

Earlier this year, in February, I introduced S.397, the Protection of the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, legislation to protect law-abiding gun dealers and manufacturers from being held responsible in court for the criminal actions of third parties. I am pleased to report that on July 29, this bill was approved by the full Senate, 65 to 31.

How does this impact Idahoans? Idahoans will benefit in many ways, whether they are soldiers in our armed services, law enforcement officers in our cities and counties, or private citizens seeking to protect themselves from criminals. Let me explain why.

Gun control advocates, largely unsuccessful in achieving their agenda through the legislative process, have changed their tactics and taken to the courtroom. They have been joined by several cities, which apparently refuse to crack down on crime, in order to effectively sue American firearms dealers and manufacturers out of existence. S.397 was designed to put an end to predatory lawsuits which ultimately line the pockets of trial lawyers, rather than benefit victims of violent crime.

In a growing environment of endless litigation, it wouldn’t take long before law-abiding firearms dealers and manufacturers all over the country would be closing their doors, unable to bear the costs of defending themselves indefinitely. This is not an industry awash with money. Most individual firearms manufacturers are relatively small operations, employing perhaps a few hundred workers, rather than tens of thousands. Even if they win every case, lawyers must be paid to defend the company, and the costs of those services add up.

Sadly, those in the anti-Second Amendment crowd fail to see the greater consequences of their lawsuit campaign. If the American firearms industry went bankrupt, thousands of workers would be out of a good paying job, and our armed forces would have no choice but to buy our soldiers’ and marines’ rifles from foreign producers. So would our law enforcement agencies. This might not seem to be such a problem if we are in a time of peace. But in times of war, the United States must be able to arm our men and women in uniform quickly and reliably. Relying on foreign firearms makers would pose a serious threat to our nation.

In addition to national security, private citizens interested in protecting themselves or their families would lose, too. The loss of American producers would narrow the choices of products available to consumers, allowing foreign producers to raise prices for their firearms. Second Amendment rights should not become a privilege available only to the wealthy.

As I have said many times before, most sensible people agree that General Motors or Ford should not be held responsible if a drunk driver uses one of their products and gets in an accident. Nor should your local sporting goods store be sued if a softball bat is used in a robbery. To some trial lawyers and social activists, however, this logic does not apply to firearms dealers and manufacturers.

The Protection of the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act is designed to restore a bit of sanity to our legal system, so that all Americans and their families remain secure in their homes, and in their Second Amendment rights. Clearly, a large majority of my colleagues in the Senate agree, with 61 of them signing on as cosponsors of the bill. I was pleased to play a part in bringing the bill to passage.

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