House Passes Bill to
Protect Reckless, Negligent Gun Manufacturers and "Bad Apple" Gun Dealers
Bill Would Force
Dismissal of Current NAACP Suit Against Gun Industry
in a lead-up to the National Rifle Association's annual meeting, the U.S.
House of Representatives passed legislation (H.R.1036) that would give
sweeping protection from civil liability to the firearms industry. The
gun industry is already one of only two producers of consumer products
exempt from federal health and safety regulation�the tobacco industry
is the other.
The bill would radically
alter current state laws and shield gun manufacturers, dealers, and even
gun industry trade associations from lawsuits brought by victims of criminal
gun violence. The legislation would force the immediate dismissal of pending
lawsuits against the gun industry, including one brought by the NAACP
that is now being heard by a federal court in Brooklyn. In fact, the bill's
proponents made a last-minute change when the legislation was considered
in the House Judiciary Committee to ensure dismissal of the NAACP suit.
House Passage of the
bill�a top priority for the gun lobby�comes two weeks before the National
Rifle Association's annual meeting begins in Orlando, Florida, on April
Kristen Rand, legislative
director of the Violence Policy Center, states, "Gun manufacturers already
exploit their exemption from federal health and safety regulation�pumping
out lethal assault weapons, 50 caliber sniper rifles, and ultra-concealable
�pocket rocket' handguns. The gun industry innovates not for safety, but
for lethality, designing and marketing guns with ever-increasing killing
power. H.R. 1036 rewards them for such practices and will serve only to
protect the gun industry from accountability when their products kill
innocent victims, including children and law enforcement officers."
A witness opposing
the bill at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing last week was David
Lemongello, a former New Jersey police officer who was shot and wounded
in the line of duty. He has filed a lawsuit against the West Virginia
gun dealer who sold the gun used in the shooting. The West Virginia judge
presiding over the lawsuit recently denied a gun industry motion to dismiss
the case. If the NRA-backed bill becomes law, Officer Lemongello's case
would be dismissed.
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, April 9, 2003
Violence Policy Center
(202) 822-8200 x105