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antediluvianist
07-28-2005, 22:55
Liability Shield for Gunmakers Near Passage

By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 29, 2005; A01

The nation's gun lobby is close to realizing a long-sought goal of protecting firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held legally responsible for violent crimes committed with their handguns and automatic weapons.

Supporters believe they have the votes in the Senate to pass as early as today a bill making it virtually impossible for victims of gun violence to file civil suits against the industry -- a testimony to the political clout of gun manufacturers, which have become increasingly vulnerable to civil lawsuits in the District and several states. Twelve Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), are joining with the Republicans to support the legislation.

Congress has fought bitterly over the issue for the past four years, with the House eager to grant liability protection to the industry but with the Senate highly resistant. A similar bill failed in the Senate last year after opponents loaded it up with amendments that were anathema to the National Rifle Association and other gun enthusiasts.

But this year, the Senate appears on the verge of approving a bill that is far broader than most of the 33 immunity-related state laws on the books and that would even halt pending cases, including those brought under the District's Assault Weapon Manufacturing Strict Liability Act, a 1991 law designed to hold manufacturers accountable for selling military-style guns.

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals in April upheld the act as constitutional, allowing victims of crimes involving semiautomatic weapons to bring claims under it.

If the Senate approves the measure, the House is likely to approve a companion measure -- probably after the August recess -- and to send it on to President Bush for his signature, according to gun lobbyists and some lawmakers.

Vincent Morris, a spokesman for D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, said: "It's disappointing but not surprising that this Congress wants to accommodate gunmakers at the expense of victims."

The firearms industry is particularly nervous about the D.C. law because plaintiffs are not required to show fault or prove that a gun used in the commission of a crime was defective. Lawrence G. Keane, general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents the gun industry, said every injury involving a semiautomatic weapon within the District's borders "could potentially give rise to a lawsuit."

"We feel very vulnerable," Keane said.

Keane's group recently retained Theodore B. Olson, a former solicitor general for President Bush, to file a Supreme Court petition challenging the D.C. law.

But critics say the Senate bill goes overboard in its attempt to block frivolous suits. "It completely eliminates the right to sue in the vast majority of cases," said Dennis Henigan, legal director of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which has participated in most legal actions against the gun industry. "It goes right to the heart of our civil liability system."

Henigan said his group will challenge the constitutionality of the federal liability exemption, should it be signed into law.

Democratic opponents characterize the bill as a flagrant political favor to the gun lobby and ridicule Republicans for playing the national security card.

Supporters of the bill contend that the lawsuits could bankrupt firearm manufacturers such as Beretta USA Corp., which provides the standard side arm to the U.S. armed forces, potentially compromising the safety of American troops.

"The Department of Defense faces the very real prospect of outsourcing side arms for our soldiers to foreign manufacturers," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).

antediluvianist
07-28-2005, 23:03
A question for you lawyers out there _ I'm in healthcare and I know that it is much, much harder in the Philippines for a patient to successfully sue a doctor for huge amounts of money over malpractice, than it is in the U.S. (partly because we don't have juries, which tend to favor the patient; and partly because there just isn't a tradition here of suing doctors (until recently). )

Has anybody locally sued Armscor or S.A.M., or any importer of foreign-made guns , over a shooting incident, as they do in the States (see above article) ?

isuzu
07-29-2005, 17:54
There was even a guy in the US who sued a firearm manufacturer because he got hit with shells in the face and caused him discomfort. This happened in the 1990's. Duh!

The judge who handled the case was a gun enthusiast, and he ended getting scolded by the judge. The judge told him that "if he doesn't want to be hit by spent shells in the face, better stop shooting and sell your firearm."

By the way, the US Congress also voted down a bill restricting the sale of .50 cal rifles such as Barret Rifles to be sold outside of the US.

The downside of this is that foreign firearms dealers can freely buy these rifles and they may end up in the wrong hands.

Taurus
07-30-2005, 05:24
I've read on "Saturday Night Special" cases in the United States involving suits against gun manufacturers on the basis of a "product defect" approach. Product defect cases involve actions for damages for injuries resulting from a defective product. Creative lawyers argued that Saturdqay Night Specials, because of the fact that they were dirt cheap, became the cause of numerous homicides for which the manufacturer should be held liable. In other words, the defect lay in the fact that the guns were readily available and thus, defective as to cause damage. The courts eventually threw out most of these cases but at great legal cost to the gun manufacturers. The US Senate is near approval of a bill limiting the liability of gun manactureres and sellers on the reasoning that the liability should lie on the law-breaking shooter, and not on the law-abiding gun manufacturer.

July 29, 2005/AP
WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Friday to shield firearms manufacturers, dealers and importers from lawsuits brought by victims of gun crimes, a measure opponents said had been ordered up by the gun lobby.

The 65-31 vote passed a bill that supporters said protects the industry from financial disaster and bankruptcy caused by damage lawsuits.

"This bill says go after the criminal, don't go after the law-abiding gun manufacturer or the law-abiding gun seller," said bill sponsor Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho.

isuzu
07-30-2005, 10:43
Originally posted by Taurus
The US Senate is near approval of a bill limiting the liability of gun manactureres and sellers on the reasoning that the liability should lie on the law-breaking shooter, and not on the law-abiding gun manufacturer.

July 29, 2005/AP
WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Friday to shield firearms manufacturers, dealers and importers from lawsuits brought by victims of gun crimes, a measure opponents said had been ordered up by the gun lobby.

The 65-31 vote passed a bill that supporters said protects the industry from financial disaster and bankruptcy caused by damage lawsuits.

"This bill says go after the criminal, don't go after the law-abiding gun manufacturer or the law-abiding gun seller," said bill sponsor Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho.

I think this is just a timely decision by the US Senate. S & W and Ruger had to make golf clubs (and they were pretty successful with them) just to stay out of the red when the firearms industry slowed down.

Yup, it's the job of the BATF and not the manufacturers in monitoring who is buying the firearms. Once the firearms leave the factory, the manufacturers have no control over them.