For Release: Wednesday, February 9, 2005
Defeat of Bingaman-Feinstein Amendment is Win for Gun Industry, Bill is Priority for National Rifle Association
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Violence Policy Center (VPC), a national gun violence prevention organization, today harshly criticized S. 5, the so-called “Class Action Fairness Act.” The VPC opposes the bill as an egregious invasion of the rights of gun consumers and victims of firearms violence. The VPC joins a broad coalition of consumer, civil rights, labor, and other organizations opposed to S. 5.
The VPC specifically criticized today’s defeat of the Bingaman-Feinstein consumer amendment that would have given consumers including victims of gun violence and defective firearms a fighting chance in court.
“Because firearms are exempt from federal safety regulation, class action litigation is often the only practical remedy for gun consumers seeking compensation for defective firearms,” states Kristen Rand, VPC legislative director.
The bill would force most class action lawsuits into federal court, placing victims of firearms violence as well as consumers who buy defective guns at a stark legal disadvantage. Federal courts are hesitant to certify nationwide classes of plaintiffs, and are also reluctant to apply some emerging legal theories such as negligent marketing and public nuisance to gunmakers.
The bill is a priority for the National Rifle Association notwithstanding the negative impact it would have on gun owners who purchase defective guns. NRA board member Grover Norquist was quoted recently in the Washington Post touting the bill’s provisions that would protect gun manufacturers stating that they “will strengthen the Second Amendment community, especially the NRA.” Moreover, the February issue of the NRA’s America’s 1st Freedom magazine warns that “class action lawsuits could become the weapon of choice for the triumvirate of predatory trial lawyers, leftist gun-ban groups and anti-gun municipalities….”
The NRA supports class action “reform” despite the fact that gun owners are commonly plaintiffs in class action suits against the gun industry. Examples include a class action against Remington Arms over shotguns with barrels that were prone to explode and a nationwide class of gun owners who sued Glock alleging that their pistols were prone to jamming and unintentional firing.