Let Freedom Ring for Nation's Gun Makers


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JG
August 5, 2005, 08:16 PM
This one's a real treat - JG

Let Freedom Ring for Nation's Gun Makers: Ann Woolner (Correct)
2005-08-05 08:35 (New York)

Commentary. Ann Woolner is a columnist for Bloomberg News. The
opinions expressed are her own.)



By Ann Woolner
Aug. 5 (Bloomberg) -- If I were an industry, I would hire
lobbyists and hand out lots and lots of campaign money to
politicians. Then, I would persuade them to pass a law to keep
people from suing me.
If I were really good at this, the law would force judges to
toss out lawsuits already filed against me, no matter how worthy,
no matter which court.
First, I would blame those greedy plaintiffs' lawyers for
trying to bleed good industries like me dry. I would point to the
craziest lawsuits I could find (is the McDonald's hot coffee case
overused?) to distract people from the solid cases, the ones
filed because my carelessness did hurt people.
If I could do all that, I would be the gun industry.
Getting a special pass from legal principles that hold every
other business accountable for their actions is the latest thing
in lobbying. Morticians in Indiana did it. So did coconut-tossing
Mardis Gras float riders in Louisiana.
There is much competition for the Audacious Lobbying Award,
given to the industry that wins the most sweeping protection in
the largest number of courthouses. And yet it clearly goes to gun
makers, distributors and sellers and their chums at the National
Rifle Association. Last week they got a bill through the Senate that gives them
protection other industries can hardly imagine.

Headed for Passage

``Freedom prevailed,'' declared NRA leaders on the group's
Web site.
The bill will get blessed by the House, which previously
passed a similar one, and then go to President George W. Bush, an
outspoken fan of the historic bill.
``No other industry enjoys or has ever enjoyed such a
blanket freedom from responsibility,'' University of Michigan law
professor Sherman Clark said in a letter to Congress.
When the law goes into effect, no longer will gun businesses
be considered liable for negligence that contributes to a
shooting death or injury. (They still could be sued for guns that
malfunction.)
``This bill says go after the criminal, don't go after the
law-abiding gun manufacturer or the law-abiding gun seller,'' the
bill's chief sponsor, Senator Larry Craig, Republican of Idaho,
told his colleagues last week.
That's one way to put it. Here's another.
The bill is so broad it would protect gun sellers who ``park
an unguarded pickup truck full of loaded assault rifles on a city
street corner, leave it there for a week,'' Clark said in the
letter, signed by 79 other law professors.

Murder Weapon

When one of those guns turns up as a murder weapon, only the
killer could be held responsible, not anyone careless enough to
leave a truck full of firearms.
If you think that's how it should be, then lobby Congress to
do the same for every other business. All it has to do is wipe
out decades of state and federal case law.
``Because it strikes down basic negligence claims, it
overrides the laws of virtually every state in the country,''
says Daniel Vice, a staff attorney for the Brady Campaign to
Prevent Gun Violence.
For what this means in real life, consider these cases, from
the Brady Campaign's files.
A man and a woman walk into a West Virginia pawn shop. He
picks out a dozen semi-automatic handguns. She pays cash for
them, clears a background check and the couple totes them off.
This is exactly how a typical gun trafficker behaves. Can we
guess his customer base?

Suspected Robber

Sure enough, one of those guns turns up in the hands of a
suspected armed robber in Orange, New Jersey, who shoots a couple
of cops, seriously wounding them and ending their careers,
according to Brady spokesman Peter Hamm.
Was the shooter responsible? Sure. Was the pawn shop? Under
standard negligence principles, most likely. It settled for $1
million and established a one-gun-per-customer-per-month rule.
That is the sort of case that will be tossed out when the
Senate bill becomes law. Let freedom ring.
Here's another one. Brian Borgelt, former owner of Bull's
Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma, Washington, was so lax with his
guns and books that he lost track of 238 weapons and belatedly
reported them stolen.
Gee, who in the world would steal a gun?

Shoplifted Rifle

An under-aged customer named Lee Boyd Malvo later told
police he shoplifted a Bushmaster rifle from that store. Indeed,
that is the weapon police confiscated when they arrested him and
his companion, John Allen Muhammad, after a shooting spree that
killed 10 people, mostly in metropolitan Washington, in 2002.
Victims and their families sued Bull's Eye and Bushmaster,
which considered Borgelt's store one of its top suppliers, sloppy
management notwithstanding. They settled last year for $2.5
million.
And then there are the lawsuits, which are the main targets
of the bill, brought by cities against the industry. Most have
been kicked out of court, in large part because of immunity bills
passed by state legislatures. Four remain, according to Vice.
They were brought by New York City; Washington; Gary, Indiana;
and Cleveland, Ohio.
They may sound ridiculous, but consider this statistic. Of
the traceable guns used in crimes nationwide, 57 percent came
from 1.2 percent of the nation's gun dealers, according to a 2000
report by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives.

Holding Dealers Accountable

Is it ridiculous to hold those dealers accountable, or the
gun makers and distributors who send their wares to these places?
If so, why should hoteliers be sued when they fail to repair
perpetually broken locks and their guests get robbed and raped?
Let freedom prevail for them, too.
Give immunity to polluters, while you're at it. That almost
happened last month when the energy bill was making its way
through the Senate.
And give the pharmaceutical companies freedom, too. The
House made a stab at it last week by voting to disallow punitive
awards for plaintiffs suing drug companies because a federally
approved medicine turned out to be dangerous.
``Every legislative session in the states and, to a lesser
extent in Congress, there are dozens of immunity bills,'' says
Carlton Carl, spokesman for the American Trial Lawyers
Association.
Pass them all, I say.
And while you're at it, how about giving me a little
immunity from libel suits?
__________________

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LawDog
August 5, 2005, 08:40 PM
When one of those guns turns up as a murder weapon, only the killer could be held responsible, not anyone careless enough to leave a truck full of firearms.
Holy sheep dip, Batman! The impudence of it all, to actually hold the killer responsible for the murder! Civilization will fall down around our ears! Hottentots at the gates, Philistines rampaging through the streets, dogs and cats living together, I...I...feel an attack of the vapours coming on.

Oh, wait. I'm not a liberal.

Never mind.

LawDog

Fletchette
August 5, 2005, 09:49 PM
The utter illogic of her politics is discombulating.

...and it is liberals like her that are shocked when the Red States refuse to follow them?!?

Note to Ann: this is why we voted for Bush (...or against Kerry).

Fletchette
August 5, 2005, 10:00 PM
My quick e-mail:

Ann,

Respectfully, you have flawed logic. None of your analogies are comparable. A more proper analogy is to prohibit an automobile manufacturer from getting sued if one of the cars he made is used in vehicular homicide.

Holding the murderer responsible for his crime is justice.

Really, the first thing that entered my mind after reading your angry commentary was utter astonishment at how liberals can be shocked at Bush's re-election. The attitude expressed in your commentary is why Democrats are not getting elected.

Sincerely,

***********

Standing Wolf
August 5, 2005, 10:32 PM
Really, the first thing that entered my mind after reading your angry commentary was utter astonishment at how liberals can be shocked at Bush's re-election. The attitude expressed in your commentary is why Democrats are not getting elected.

Well said, Fletchette!

DeseoUnTaco
August 5, 2005, 10:34 PM
I really think this immunity bill was a mistake. The NRA has a limited amount of political capital, and I would rather see them using it to fight for our rights, not for industry protections.

Standing Wolf
August 5, 2005, 11:43 PM
...I would rather see them using it to fight for our rights, not for industry protections.

All the rights in the world aren't going to do us any good if a.) there are no firearms makers left in business, or b.) they're still in business, but the price of any given pistol is pumped up $100 to cover the manufacturer's legal costs.

Are you sure the N.R.A. had to expend political capital? Seems to me it just gained capital.

shermacman
August 5, 2005, 11:58 PM
Where did you find her email address? Not that she would read it, I suppose.

Old Fuff
August 6, 2005, 12:16 AM
Well as is usually the case, the lady commentator, miss the principal point:

If a manufacturer is negligent does that mean that everyone else in the industry can be sued too simply because they make a similar product?

If a newspaper prints a libelous article does that mean that the injured party or parties can sue all of the other newspapers in the country, charging that they are equally guilty because they are also newspapers?

All this present bill really says is that if a manufacturer, distributor or dealer really does do something negligent or illegal the injured party(s) can sue.

But they can't sue everyone else simply because they happen to be part of the same industry.

Such as for example, happened in New York where a young man was shot accidentally by someone else while both of them were looking at guns being sold by an illegal gunrunner out of the back of his truck. When the victim(?) couldn't identify what the make and model of gun was used, lawyers representing some gun-grabber organizations proceeded to sue every known handgun manufacturer.

This is what the new law will stop, and the Democrats and Leftists don't like that one bit. Neither does the liberal news media. But strike out the words “gun maker,” and replace it with “news media,” and see what they say.

Al Norris
August 6, 2005, 01:10 AM
It's a done deal and not only are they still twisting what the bill does, but they're moaning about how unfair life is...

Just like Kerry's unelection...

or more importantly, how Bush stole the election of 2000 from, um, what's-his-face!

:neener: :neener: :neener: :neener:

Derby FALs
August 6, 2005, 01:37 AM
The bill is flawed and the Senate version will be too. :banghead:

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