Thornberry Supports Bill Preventing Abusive Lawsuits Against Gun Industry
October 20, 2005
(Washington D.C.) With the support of Congressman Mac Thornberry (TX-13), Congress today acted to stop use of the courts to circumvent the legislative process and the U.S. Constitution on the right to keep and bear arms.
By a vote of 283-144, the U.S. House of Representatives approved S. 397, the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act." The bill prevents the use of lawsuits against the firearms industry for harm caused by the criminal or unlawful misuse of their products.
"There has been a serious effort to bypass Congress and the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution through lawsuits against manufacturers and businesses. This practice is an abuse of our legal system and an abuse of the right to keep and bear arms." said Thornberry.
S. 397 prevents gun and ammunition manufacturers, distributors, dealers and importers from being sued over acts that involve the criminal or unlawful use of a firearm. The bill would also require that civil liability actions currently pending in state or federal courts be dismissed.
Under S. 397, lawsuits would still be permitted in certain cases such as when a person transfers a firearm or ammunition knowing that it will be used to commit a crime of violence or a drug trafficking crime. Lawsuits will also be allowed when there is negligence on the part of the seller and when there is a defect in design or manufacture of firearms or ammunition.
Thornberry said he hopes the bill is another step in helping "restore respect for personal accountability."
"If somebody uses a gun to hold up a convenience store, the person who should be held accountable is the robber, not the manufacturer of a legal product that happened to be the robber's weapon of choice," said Thornberry.
Laws similar to S. 397 have already been adopted in 33 states. The U.S. Senate had previously approved the measure, and with House passage, S. 397 now heads to President Bush whose signature will make it federal law.