T Nation

Firearms Munufacturers/Lawsuit Bill


#1

Well, the US Senate did it and now the US Congress has finally passed the Bill. With a very difinitive vote. And now it is scheduled to be passed to the President for his signature.

I don't know the Bills appropriate number, but it states that firearms manufacturers cannot be held liable for the actions of the criminally depraved sociopaths that use their wares in crimes.

It is a protection for the firearms industry from class action lawsuits brought on by the survivors and families of victims of violent crimes involving guns. It puts the blame back where it should be, on the perpetrators of the crimes against the familes.

I don't know how the remainder of the posters here will feel about it, but my feeling on the issue is: It's about time!

Holding a gun maker responsible for the crimes commited by a drugged up moron isn't right.

You don't see lawsuits targetting Louisville Slugger when someone is beaten with a bat.

You don't see lawsuits against Chicago Cutlery when someone is stabbed.

You don't see Stihl being sued when some deranged psychopath goes on a rampage with a chainsaw!

Sue the bastard that did the act! THEY are the ones responsible, not the makers of the tools.

And that's exactly what a gun is, a tool. It has no will of its own, has no power not given to it by a higher being. It is an extension of the person using it.

I understand the frustration that the families who have been victimized feel, and their quest to find some purpose in their pain. I understand it much too well, having been through it myself.

What I don't understand is why our society has become so litigious.

Sure, the gun makers have much deeper pockets than the criminals, and can afford to pay much easier. But that doesn't make suing them right.

Place the blame where it belongs, on the criminals. Place the blame on the individual who has done you wrong.

Hopefully the President will sign this new Bill into Law.


#2

I agree. This is a good law. It goes hand-in-hand with the law to disallow fat people from suing fast food companies.

Here's a great post on the law from law professor Dave Koppel:

http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2005_10_16-2005_10_22.shtml#1129830865

Congress Bans Abusive Anti-Gun Lawsuits:

At approximately noon, eastern time, the House of Representatives voted to pass S. 397, 283-144 ( http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:s.00397: ). The bill, known as the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act," has been endorsed by the White House, and now goes to the President for his signature.

The bill is the culmination a decade of tort reform work, aimed at addressing the problem of abusive lawsuits against gun manufacturers. The bill is an excellent exercise of the congressional power over interstate commerce, for precisely the purpose for which Congress was originally granted that power: the billis necessary and proper to stop local governments from interfering with interstate commerce, including by attempting to use a verdict in a single state court to impose national firearms controls which have been rejected by Congress and by all state governments.

S. 397 is also a proper exercise of Congressional power under section 5 of the 14th Amendment, to prevent local governments, including local courts, from infringing the Second Amendment rights (and the parallel state constitutional rights in 44 states) which are guaranteed to all law-abiding Americans.

In addition, the bill is also a necessary and proper exercise of the Congressional war power, because the civilian firearms industry is now, and always has been, essential to the production of firearms for the military. Without a robust civilian firearms industry, manufacturers who had to produce only for a military or police market would have to charge much higher prices, and would innovate far less. Almost every gun ever used by the U.S. military was originally developed for the civilian market. Accordingly, the Department of Defense stated that is "strongly supports" S. 397 because the bill "would help safeguard our national security by limiting unnecessary lawsuits against an industry that plays a critical role in meeting the procurement needs of our men and women in uniform."

Thirty-four states had already enacted their own laws to prohibit such suits, but Congressional action was necessary to ensure that a single court in one of the hold-out states did not attempt to destroy the U.S. firearms industry, or to impose the will of a single judge as a national system of firearms restrictions.

The Brady Center, the instigator of the abusive suits, has already expressed its intention to fight the new federal law in court. Significantly, no court anywhere in the United States has ever ruled in favor of similar challenges to the state statutes restricting abusive lawsuits against Second Amendment rights.

The Senate added two unrelated items to S. 397, both of which have caused concern among some Second Amendment activists:

First, the bill increases the already severe mandatory minimum sentences for use of armor-piercing ammunition in a violent or drug trafficking crime. Mandatory minimums are generally a bad idea, but since actual armor-piercing ammunition, as defined by federal law, is very rare, the practical effect of the new sentences will be very small.

Second, the bill requires all licensed firearms dealers to include a locking mechanism with each handgun they sale. Almost every American manufacturer already includes a lock (either an internal lock or, more commonly, a cable lock or trigger lock), with every new gun.

Accordingly, the main effect of S. 397's lock provision will be to force sellers of used handguns to raise their price by several dollars to provide customers an item that the customer may not need. (For example, the customer may already own a gun safe, or may plan to keep the handgun always ready for self-defense, so that it should not be locked up.)

The bill also provides civil immunity for persons who use locking devices. There have been a few state court cases in which guns were effectively treated as ultra-hazardous products, and gun owners whose guns were stolen and used in a crime were found civilly liable, even though their guns had been stored in a safe.

Both of the extra provisions have slippery slope risks: Senator Kennedy and a significant number of Senators favor expanding the definition of "armor-piercing" ammunition so as to include the vast majority of conventional rifle ammunition ( http://www.nationalreview.com/kopel/kopel200403010926.asp ). And several states have enacted dangerous laws which require handguns to be locked up, and thus inaccessible for emergency self-defense.

However, the future dangers of slippery slopes are far outweighed by the immediate threat posed by abusive lawsuits. On the whole, S. 397 is an immense victory for constitutional rights.

For background on the abusive lawsuit issue, you may wish to read some of the ten articles I've written on the subject ( http://www.davekopel.com/2dAmendment.htm#Lawsuits ), including the 1995 Seton Hall Legislative Journal article which argued that courts should protect the Second Amendment from abusive lawsuits ( http://www.davekopel.com/2A/LawRev/Protecting_the_Second_Amendment_from_Civil_Abuse.htm ), just as they protected the First Amendment from abusive lawsuits in New York Times v. Sullivan. But even better than judicially-created protection is legislatively-created protection. Today's bi-partisan vote is a tremendous victory for the constitutional rights of citizens, and is the result of Congress exercising its powers for precisely the pro-freedom reasons for which those powers were granted to Congress by the American people.


#3

Any law that puts the responsibility back into the hands of the user of the product is always a good thing.

I also think that suing McDonalds because you are fat, or suing a cigarette company because you have cancer is inappropriate.


#4

Man, it's about time.


#5

Good law. If the firearm does what it is supposed to do there is no reason the gun companies should get sued.

If you pull the trigger an dthe gun blows up in your face, maybe you should be allowed to sue them.


#6

I agree with Zap. Again.


#7

It's late, I'm bored, and I'm getting over a fever, so I'm going to throw down against all of you. These laws suck :stuck_out_tongue:

Why do we need two laws telling us what we can't do? More specifically, why do these two industries require Federal protection from citizens in court? Were the courts not handling this just fine? They were throwing out all the fast food lawsuits (though I honestly have no idea about the gun lawsuits, haven't paid attention). In a free society even stupid ideas get their day to be heard and make their case, it just comes with the territory.

All that happened here, as with most tort reform, is two industries used clever PR and a few good hookers for their congressmen and shut down a very small portion of our rights in their favor.

It's an abusive use of power. Which in this case is particularly ironic: fear of having the government become an abusive tool used against citizens rather than a tool of citizens is why we have a 2nd amendment to begin with.

Just some rambling food for thought.

-Daniele


#8

While many of the fast food lawsuits were indeed thrown out they still had their day in court. This means that innocent companies such as McDonalds had to spend money on lawyers. I know that no one ever feels sorry for companies, but trust me when they spend money on such things it is reflected in their prices. It might also be reflected in the way that they pay their help...that would be you!

I know no one here eats at McDonalds, but some of you might very well be gun owners (as am I). And I'm not interested in paying more for a gun or ammunition because some unstable character went on a rampage.

Less lawsuits, less lawyers, more peace of mind and money in your pocket!


#9

I'm going to sue Ivanko, my arms can't get past 19", lol.


#10

The anti-american, anti-freedom, anti-gun movement never intended to win any of these junk lawsuits in court. They are on record saying as much. Along with radical anti-gun groups, you had cities run by fools filing lawsuits against gun manufacturers. Where do you think the money for the municipalities suits were coming from? The mayor's pocket?

The whole plan was to bankrupt the firearms industry through legal bullying, an idea that should make every American sick to their stomach. You dont need to win the lawsuit to do this(in fact the scumbags employing this tactic have always lost in court).

Passage of this bill was an encouraging sign, something we are short on these days.

Ultimately, this is about personal responsibility which is the fundamental building block of a free society. The socialists just dont get that.


#11

I agree, and so does Congress. The Bill in fact states that should there be a manufacturers defect then the manufacturer can be sued for any inuries incurred due to that defect.


#12

WOW! I am agreeing with ZEB wholeheartedly! If you are fat, stop eating shit! If you get shot with a gun and live, put the bastard in jail that shot you and sue him and his estate. If you smoke cigarettes and then later get cancer, too bad! It says on the package that smoking can cause cancer! Maybe you should have paid attention during english class in school.

Suing companies for your or some person's misuse of the products they sell is asinine! Stupid things like this get in the way of people that really need to sue a company for legitimate reasons.


#13

The only problem that could arise from this is that some criminal may be able to sue a company if the gun blows up in their hand during the course of their illegal activity. Some sleazy lawyer would probably latch onto this and run with it.