Thursday, July 28, 2005

Has the NRA really gone this far

Yesterday, today and probably tomorrow the senate is debating (and I use that word lightly because we all know how it's going to go down) S. 397 / HR 800 - the gun industry immunity bill. This is a bill that would, for the vast majority of cases, terminate a victim's right to go after a negligent gun manufacturer or dealer. Not only is almost every police organization opposed to this bill but 75 law professors from a variety of schools (see here - including one M. Schultz whom disco stu was sad to see was the only Boalt professor as his Torts professor was not on the list) are opposed because this bill would give unprecedented immunity to the gun industry. No other industry in America has this much protection. Why, in God's/Allah's name, would we start with the gun industry?

Because the NRA and its gun-hugger supporters have a stranglehold on our politicians. Disco Stu is not saying this just because he happens to be working for a non-profit fighting gun violence this summer. No, Disco Stu has long rallied against the NRA and the radical right they've come to represent. Last year this same bill was narrowly defeated because there were enough common sense amendments good lawmakers were able to tack on that the NRA withdrew it's support. This year, however, not only those will stop it. For example, there has recently been an amendment forcing manufacturer's to install trigger locks on all handguns made. This passed something like 72-28 or around that. Now, it's terrible that over 70% of senators view this as good legislation yet the NRA does not support it. How the NRA still has a good name in this country when not supporting something that would protect children and others alike is beyond Disco Stu's comprehension, and should be enraging others.

The major support of this bill is masked behind such broad statements as we shouldn't hold detroit auto makers or dealers liable if a person gets drunk and runs another over so we shouldn't hold gun manufacturers liable either. Guess what Senator Warner (who just used this example less than one hour ago and is, sadly, from Disco Stu's home state) if a car dealer sells a car to a drunk and that drunk runs someone over we do hold both parties responsible, as we should. This bill would insulate a gun dealer from liability if that gun dealer were to negligently allow guns to be stolen from the store (much like the DC snipers did when Disco Stu was terrified to fill up on gas for those three weeks in October). If a car dealer left keys in the ignition and a group of kids went out joyriding and killed someone, that car dealer could be, not necessarily would be, held responsible as the ensuing court case would decided if his actions were negligent. If a car dealer sells 10 vans a month for a year and those vans keep blowing up in front of federal buildings (ala Oklahoma city) that car dealer should be held responsible and at the very lest should undergo trial to find out if he was negligent in his actions. Why then, should a gun shop who sells 25 handguns a month to the same person not be held responsible when those handguns keep showing up on the street, especially if the gun shop keeps selling them even after the guns have been used in crimes.

Criminals should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, but it's much easier to stop the negligent flow of guns onto the street than stop every gang member from shooting up his rivals.

Another doozy Disco Stu has heard today while watching CSpan 2 (at his bosses request) is that if this bill is not passed the gun industry will go bankrupt. This is foolish as well. Gun industries aren't bankrupt now, yet their not immune now. The only two publicly traded companies, Smith & Wesson and Ruger, in their last statements to the SEC have reported profits up. S&W reported 5% over last year's earning. Ruger stated in its March, 11 2005 filing "[I]t is not probable and is unlikely that litigation, including punitive damage claims, will have a material adverse effect on the financial position of the Company." Further Senator Frist insinuated that if this legislation is not passed gun manufacturers will be out of business and suddenly our armed forces will be without weapons. The defense department has never stated they are short on guns, there is no chance that armed troops would suddenly just become troops without arms. Disco Stu can't believe the depths to which the gun-huggers are willing to go to try to pass this legislation.

This bill is not only about legislation but about what Congress is allowing the courts to hear. Just because a court hears a case involving the gun industry doesn't necessarily mean the manufacturer or seller will be held responsible. It scares Disco Stu when Congress attempts to restrict the scope of the judiciary (this congress has already done it once with new class-action restrictions). This country is fast becoming two branches instead of three.

Disco Stu urges all readers to immidiately contact their senators and let them know that the gun industry deserves as much protection as any other industry out there, and this bill would vastly overstep that line.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must say that I find HR 800/S 397 to be morally repugnant. I am sorry to say that the man I spent the last two years working for is a cosponsor of this horrible legislation. The blatant pandering to any industry always leaves me feeling ill, but in this case I hang my head in shame. So please everyone call and harass the lowly interns on the phones, demand an answer as to why the office in which they are volunteering is in support of this legislation. And then just cross your fingers for 2006...

7/29/2005 9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, that law would take a pro-industry stand in the culture war over gun control. But, let's be honest about it. That letter purports to apply neutral principles of law, when the signators view law in purely instrumental means -- and they mean to destroy the industry through tort suits. In that light, it's hardly surprising that gun owners, the NRA, and the legislators who support them are fighting fire with fire. It's not an honest letter.

8/03/2005 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Mr. Car Dealer said...

Wow, laws usually don't make sense, but you have a very good point in the fact that these make even less than usual.

5/27/2008 4:49 AM  

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