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Senator Craig Introduces Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

S. 659. A bill to prohibit civil liability actions from being brought or continued against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms or ammunition for damages resulting from the misuse of their products by others; to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I am pleased to join with Senator Baucus in introducing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, on behalf of ourselves and more than half of our colleagues in the United States Senate: Senators ALEXANDER, ALLARD, ALLEN, BENNETT, BOND, BREAUX, BROWNBACK, BUNNING, BURNS, CAMPBELL, CHAMBLISS, COCHRAN, COLEMAN, COLLINS, CORNYN, CRAPO, DOLE, DOMENICI, DORGAN, ENSIGN, ENZI, FRIST, GRAHAM of South Carolina, GRASSLEY, GREGG, HAGEL, HATCH, HUTCHISON, INHOFE, JOHNSON, KYL, LANDRIEU, LINCOLN, LOTT, MCCONNELL, MILLER, MURKOWSKI, NELSON of Nebraska, NICKLES, REID, ROBERTS, SANTORUM, SESSIONS, SHELBY, SMITH, SPECTER, STEVENS, SUNUNU, TALENT, and THOMAS.

This is an extraordinary showing of support for a bill, and I believe it is a testament to the gravity of the threat addressed by the legislation: the abuse of our courts through lawsuits filed to force law-abiding businesses to pay for criminal acts by individuals beyond their control.

The businesses I am talking about are collectively known as the U.S. firearms industry. The lawsuits in question claim that even though these businesses comply with all laws and sell a legitimate product, they should be responsible for the misuse or illegal use of the firearm by a criminal. These actions are pursued with the intent of driving this industry out of business, regardless of the thousands of jobs that would be lost in the process and the impact on citizens across the Nation who would never contemplate committing a crime with a gun.

Let me be clear about this. These lawsuits are not brought by individuals seeking relief for injuries done to them by anyone in the industry. Instead, this is a politically-inspired initiative trying to force social goals through an end-run around the Congress and state legislatures.

The theory on which these lawsuits are based would be laughable, if it weren't so dangerous: to pin the responsibility for a criminal act on an innocent party who wasn't there and had nothing to do with it. They argue that merely by virtue of the fact that a gun was present, those who were part of the commercial distribution chain should be held responsible for the gun's misuse.

This isn't a legal theory—it's just the latest twist in the gun controllers' notion that it's the gun, and not the criminal, that causes crime.

The truth of the matter is that there are millions of firearms in this country today, yet only a tiny fraction of them have ever been used in the commission of a crime. The truth of the matter is that again and again, law-abiding firearm owners are using their guns, often without even firing a shot, to defend life and property. The truth of the matter is that the intent of the user, not the gun, is what determines whether that gun will be used in a crime. The trend of abusive litigation targeting the firearms industry not only defies common sense and concepts of fundamental fairness, but it would do nothing to curb criminal gun violence. Furthermore, the burdens it seeks to impose would jeopardize Americans' constitutionally-protected access to firearms for self defense and other lawful uses.

The bill that more than half of the United States Senate has already endorsed is a measured response that would put a stop to this abusive trend without endangering legitimate claims for relief. Let me emphasize that it does not insulate the firearms industry from all lawsuits or deprive legitimate victims of their day in court, as some critics have charged. Indeed, it specifically provides that actions based on the wrongful conduct of those involved in the business of manufacturing and selling firearms—breaches of contract, defects in firearms, negligent entrustment, criminal behavior—would not be affected by this legislation. It is solely directed at stopping frivolous, politically-driven litigation against law-abiding individuals for the misbehavior of criminals over whom they had no control.

The courts of our Nation are supposed to be forums for resolving controversies between citizens and providing relief where warranted, not a mechanism for achieving political ends that are rejected by the people's representatives in Congress and the state legislatures. I hope all our colleagues will join us in taking a measured, principled stand against this abusive litigation by supporting the Protection of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act.

I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD.

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