Dayton Denounces Special Interest Gun Liability Bill
Washington, D.C. - Calling it a giveaway to the National Rifle Association, U.S. Senator Mark Dayton today expressed his disappointment with the Senate Republican majority for its effort to push through and pass the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (S. 397), before the August recess. The legislation, also known as the gun liability bill, allows the manufacturers and sellers of firearms to enjoy special immunity from liability, even in cases of gross negligence and recklessness, which no other American industry has.
"The Senate's passage of the gun liability bill, which protects gun manufacturers and distributors from liability for negligence, is one of the most disgraceful actions that I have seen since I joined this body, four and half years ago," said Dayton. "This legislation has absolutely nothing to do with protecting Americans' Second Amendment rights, which I fully support. This is about meeting the demands of a powerful special interest group, and it demonstrates the full extent of the gun lobby's influence in the Senate."
S. 379, which the President is expected to sign into law, will prevent most civil lawsuits against the gun industry. Had this bill passed in 2004, the victims of the D.C. sniper shootings would have been stripped of their right to a fair day in court. Instead, the D.C. sniper victims and their families were awarded a $2.5 million settlement from Bull's Eye Shooter Supply, the dealer who "lost" the snipers' assault rifle, along with at least 238 other guns, and Bushmaster, the assault weapon maker who negligently supplied Bull's Eye, despite its disgraceful record of missing guns and regulatory violations. Furthermore, as part of the settlement, Bushmaster agreed to inform its dealers of safer sales practices that should prevent other criminals from obtaining guns - something Bushmaster had never done before.
The American Bar Association and the International Brotherhood of Police Officers opposed S. 397, as did Minneapolis Police Chief William McManus.
The Senate adjourns today for recess, until Labor Day. This bill was given higher priority than the FY 2006 Defense Authorization Bill, in which Dayton was planning to offer an amendment that would add $120 million for child care and family support for the families of reservists and National Guard men and women. The Defense bill also authorizes the funding of all military programs for the coming year.