30 July 2005

Common sense legislation on guns

Yesterday, the United States Senate voted for common sense and shielded the gun manufacturing industry from frivilous lawsuits. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, S. 397, was sponsored by Senator Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho) and passed the Senate with a vote of 65-31.

Gun companies can still be held liable if their products are faulty, but they can no longer be sued for criminal acts beyond their control. The Senate should be applauded for their action to protect the rights of lawful gun owners. Those who support federalism, however, should be concerned with the fact that the limitations also apply to the state courts.

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to keep and bear arms. Many gun control advocates have seen lawsuits against gun manufacturers as the best way to limit this right. Their reasoning is if you financially cripple the gun makers, then they will no longer be able to produce guns, and therefore gun owners will no longer have a product to purchase. The United States House of Representatives passed legislation last year to limit frivilous lawsuits against gun makers, but the bill was withdrawn by the sponsor, Senator Craig, after Democrats loaded up the bill with amendments, most notably one that would extend the assault weapon ban.

Many trial lawyers will label this bill as "tort reform," but this bill is far from the usual GOP tort reform that is typically hostile to consumers. Most so-called tort reform only protects big business while opening up consumers to great harm. This bill is different. Gun makers can still be sued for faulty products, but they cannot be sued if their products are used in unlawful acts that are beyond their control.

The same arguments that were made by the gun industry could be applied to almost any other product. Consider automobiles. What would happen to consumers if everytime a lawsuit arose involving a car, the auto manufacturers had to be added as civil defendants? For instance, a car maker would be sued everytime their cars were used during the commission of a crime or even everytime damages resulted from a car accident where a driver violated a traffic law. Such a legal environment would cause car prices to rise substantially and most of us would no longer be able to afford driving.

The bill passed yesterday simply requires gun makers to be treated like every other manufacturer. Congratulations to the United States Senate for finally exercising some common sense.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

James, I'm disappointed in your post. This bill was just part of the wish list from the NRA which was rubber stamped by the Republicans in Congress. Your posts are usually good, but I totally disagree with you this time.

12:29:00 AM  
Blogger Terry said...

This is a giveaway to the NRA and naother attempt by the GOP to go after Trail Lawyers. What a joke this legislation is.

10:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

Hey James, I thought your blog leaned left. You're letting me down. This bill was horrible for Democrats and horrible for America. You sound like a right-wing lunatic with this post.

12:02:00 AM  
Blogger RightDemocrat said...

I think that you have taken a common sense on the gun manufacturer liability issue. The culpability is clearly with the person using the gun - not the manufacturer. I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and also very much in favor of mandatory sentences for those who commit gun crimes. If Democrats want to ever win elections again in the "red states" again, the party needs to support gun rights.

9:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


5:49:00 PM  

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