New Hampshire: "Gun liability bill passes Senate" (state level)


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cuchulainn
May 9, 2003, 01:25 PM
from the Concord Monitor

http://www.cmonitor.com/stories/news/state2003/050903_gun_bill_2003.shtmlGun liability bill passes Senate

Measure aims to limit civil lawsuits
Friday, May 9, 2003

By JENNIFER SKALKA
Monitor staff

The state Senate passed a bill yesterday that would prohibit civil lawsuits against gun manufacturers, distributors, dealers and importers of firearms or ammunition whose products are used for criminal or unlawful purposes. The vote followed party lines, with 17 Republicans in favor and six Democrats against.

"I think that what this bill's doing is right," said Sen. Bob Clegg, a Hudson Republican. "It's all about making people responsible for their own action."

The bill passed the House in March and heads next to Gov. Craig Benson's desk. Benson spokeswoman Kelly Ayotte said the governor will sign it.

"He supports limiting liability for gun manufacturers because essentially the manufacturers are not the issue," Ayotte said. "It's people who may use guns in an irresponsible way who should be held responsible, not the manufacturers of guns."

The New Hampshire bill says that civil liability action "shall not be brought in any state court" against manufacturers, dealers, distributors and the like. Its aim is to "preserve a citizen's access to a supply of firearms and ammunition for all lawful purposes, including hunting, self-defense, collecting and competitive or recreational shooting."

During Senate debate, proponents said the bill protects manufacturers and dealers from frivolous lawsuits aimed at bankrupting the industry. But opponents said it's a blanket bill that provides unheard of protections to gun manufacturers and distributors. They said it gets rid of a remedy - the right to sue in civil court - that people are entitled by law.

"It sets an unusual and I think dangerous precedent," said Democratic Sen. Cliff Below of Lebanon. "The threat of lawsuits caused car manufacturers to clean up their act. We're all subject to lawsuits and having to defend ourselves."

State Sen. Joe Foster, a Nashua attorney, wondered aloud if the bill might be unconstitutional.

"What this does is grant immunity to an industry," Foster said, noting that he couldn't think of another industry comparably protected under the law.

In justifying his support for the bill, Sen. Frank Sapareto of Derry said that a couple of the state's biggest gun manufacturers have faced skyrocketing insurance premiums and big dollar lawsuits. Below asked Sapareto if any New Hampshire gun company had been put out of business because of such lawsuits. "Not yet," Sapareto said.

Similar laws have been enacted in 33 states, according to Ted Novin, a spokesman for the Virginia-based National Rifle Association. In Washington, the House of Representatives passed a like bill in April (284-140), and the Senate is expected to discuss it soon. New Hampshire's congressmen, Republicans Jeb Bradley and Charlie Bass, co-sponsored the House version of the bill.

Chuck Drew, executive director of NH Ceasefire, was disappointed with the state Senate's support of the limited liability bill. Drew said a gun manufacturer shouldn't be held accountable if he produces a safe and reliable product and distributes that product appropriately to a law-abiding citizen who turns around and uses that gun in a crime. But any dealer who knowingly sells a defective product or a product without safety features should be held responsible, he said. Under the new law, he said, that dealer won't be held liable.

"This is an example of the power of the gun industry and the gun lobby to influence legislators at the expense of everyday citizens," Drew said. "Right now a family that's been victimized by gun violence will be victimized again by the legal system because this bill protects bad gun manufacturers and dealers from any accountability."

Not so, said Novin. "My understanding is that the legislation will allow for cases where a law has been broken or where a gun is defective," he said. "This bill will not hinder somebody from seeking justice."

Friday, May 9, 2003

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Rawlings
May 9, 2003, 01:27 PM
"What this does is grant immunity to an industry," Foster said, noting that he couldn't think of another industry comparably protected under the law.

Well, you don't have people suing GM for people killed by drunk drivers, now do you?

El Tejon
May 9, 2003, 01:42 PM
No, Mr. Drew, society is victimized by abuse of the legal process which saps the power of the productive and gives it to the unproductive. This must stop or it will undermine the common law system entirely.

Standing Wolf
May 10, 2003, 12:39 AM
"He supports limiting liability for gun manufacturers because essentially the manufacturers are not the issue," Ayotte said. "It's people who may use guns in an irresponsible way who should be held responsible, not the manufacturers of guns."

Assault lawyers weep real tears.

El Tejon
May 10, 2003, 09:24 AM
ASSAULT LAWYERS!:D

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