H.R. 2037 Gives Special
Protection to the Unregulated Gun Industry
Violence Policy Center (VPC) strongly opposes H.R. 2037, a bill designed
to shield the firearms industry from accountability for their products.
The bill is scheduled for markup in the House Energy and Commerce Committee
The gun industry produces
the only consumer product exempt from federal safety oversight�aside from
tobacco. H.R. 2037 would provide gun manufacturers, sellers, and even
their trade associations with a special exemption from civil lawsuits.
This would be in addition to their exemption from safety regulation.
"It defies logic
to provide the makers and sellers of a product designed to kill with what
amounts to blanket immunity from responsibility for their products," stated
Violence Policy Center Legislative Director Kristen Rand. Rand testified
in April before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection
of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in opposition to the bill.
H.R. 2037 would have
a severe adverse impact on citizen lawsuits against the gun industry.
The bill would preclude a whole range of cases where firearms containing
serious design or manufacturing defects cause death or injury to gun owners
or innocent bystanders. The best example of this type of case is Sturm,
Ruger & Company's Old Model single-action revolver. More than 600 people,
including children, have been killed or injured by unintentional discharges
caused by the defective design of the Old Model. In 1979, the Supreme
Court of Alaska in Sturm, Ruger & Co. v. Day, upheld a punitive
damage award against Sturm, Ruger in a case involving the unintentional
discharge of an Old Model. The court's opinion stated that the "manufacturer
knew that its product was defectively designed and that injuries and deaths
had resulted from the design defect, but continued to market the product
in reckless disregard of the public's safety...." Hundreds of thousands
of these guns are still in the hands of consumers.
lawsuits are the only mechanism available to hold the gun industry
accountable for defective products. It simply makes no sense to provide
the firearms industry with special protection from liability when it already
enjoys an exemption from federal health and safety regulation," Rand concluded.
The Violence Policy Center is a
national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence
in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals.
The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research
on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related
death and injury.
Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x105