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Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act-Motion to Proceed - Part Two

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

AMENDMENT NO. 2625

Mr. CRAIG. I send to the desk the Frist-Craig amendment.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Idaho [Mr. CRAIG], for Mr. Frist, for himself and Mr. Craig, proposes an amendment numbered 2625.

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that reading of the amendment be dispensed with.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The amendment is as follows:

(Purpose: To regulate the sale and possession of armor piercing ammunition, and for other purposes)

At the appropriate place, add the following:

SEC. 5. ARMOR PIERCING AMMUNITION.

(a) UNLAWFUL ACTS.-Section 922(a) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by striking paragraphs (7) and (8) and inserting the following:

"(7) for any person to manufacture or import armor piercing ammunition, unless-

"(A) the manufacture of such ammunition is for the use of the United States, any department or agency of the United States, any State, or any department, agency, or political subdivision of a State;

"(B) the manufacture of such ammunition is for the purpose of exportation; or

"© the manufacture or importation of such ammunition is for the purpose of testing or experimentation and has been authorized by the Attorney General.

"(8) for any manufacturer or importer to sell or deliver armor piercing ammunition, unless such sale or delivery-

"(A) is for the use of the United States, any department or agency of the United States, any State, or any department, agency, or political subdivision of a State;

"(B) is for the purpose of exportation; or

"© is for the purpose of testing or experimentation and has been authorized by the Attorney General.".

(b) PENALTIES.-Section 924(c) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
"(5) Except to the extent that a greater minimum sentence is otherwise provided under this subsection, or by any other provision of law, any person who, during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime (including a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime that provides for an enhanced punishment if committed by the use of a deadly or dangerous weapon or device) for which the person may be prosecuted in a court of the United States, uses or carries armor piercing ammunition, or who, in furtherance of any such crime, possesses armor piercing ammunition, shall, in addition to the punishment provided for such crime of violence or drug trafficking crime or conviction under this section-

"(A) be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 15 years;

"(B) if death results from the use of such ammunition-

"(i) if the killing is murder (as defined in section 1111), be punished by death or sentenced to a term of imprisonment for any term of years or for life; and

"(ii) if the killing is manslaughter (as defined in section 1112), be punished as provided in section 1112.".

© STUDY AND REPORT.-

(1) STUDY.-The Attorney General shall conduct a study to determine whether a uniform standard for the uniform testing of projectiles against Body Armor is feasible.

(2) ISSUES TO BE STUDIED.-The study conducted under paragraph (1) shall include-

(A) variations in performance that are related to the length of the barrel of the handgun or centerfire rifle from which the projectile is fired; and

(B) the amount of powder used to propel the projectile.

(3) REPORT.-Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Attorney General shall submit a report containing the results of the study conducted under this subsection to-

(A) the chairman and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee of the Senate; and

(B) the chairman and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives.

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, Senator Kennedy has a copy of this straightforward amendment that strengthens the current armor-piercing bullet law. It does a couple of things.

It says the Attorney General shall commission a study to determine whether a uniform standard for the uniform testing of projectiles against body armor is feasible and what impact it would have on sporting and hunting endeavors. It includes within the issues to be studied variations in performance that are related to the length of the barrel of the handgun or the centerfired rifle from which the projectile is fired and the amount of powder used to propel the projectile. The Attorney General shall deliver such report to the chairman and the ranking member of the House and Senate Judiciary Committee within 2 years of the date of the enactment of this legislation.

This became the core of the debate between the Senator from Massachusetts and myself. What does "performance-based standards" mean, and how do they impact legitimate sporting and hunting ammunition?

Also, insert as new, 18 USC, 924:

(5) Except to the extent that a greater minimum sentence is otherwise provided under this subsection, or by any other provision of law, any person who, during and in relation to any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime (including a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime that provides for an enhanced punishment if committed by the use of a deadly or dangerous weapon or device) for which the person may be prosecuted in a court of the United States, uses or carries armor piercing ammunition, or who, in furtherance of any such crime, possesses armor piercing ammunition, shall, in addition to the punishment provided for such crime of violence or drug trafficking crime or conviction [under title 18 USC 924]-

"(A) be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 15 years;

"(B) if death results from the use of such ammunition-

"(i) if the killing is murder (as defined in section 1111), be punished by death or sentenced to a term of imprisonment for any
term of years or for life; and

"(ii) if the killing is manslaughter (as defined in section 1112), be punished as provided in section 1112."

What are we doing? We are adding real teeth to current law. We are saying to the criminal element and the drug trafficking element in our country, if you use armor-piercing ammunition in your firearm and it maims or kills a law enforcement officer, we will put you away for life.

That is what we are going to do. We do not tolerate it. We never have. The current law serves effectively, but if there is a sentence, then let's toughen it, let's strengthen it, let's give stronger positions to the law enforcement community of this country.

That is the crux of the bill. It is straightforward. It is simple. We think it offers what certainly all of us want to see and what the law enforcement community of this country needs.

I hope the Frist-Craig amendment will be accepted. It is a straightforward amendment. If the Senator would make himself available, we can conclude this debate, set this amendment aside, and move to the next amendment.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, the Senator from Massachusetts is in the Chamber. In his absence, I offered the Frist-Craig amendment and spoke briefly to it as a true strengthening of current armor-piercing bullet legislation, to suggest very directly to the criminal element and the drug trafficking element in our country: If you use armor-piercing bullets and it wounds or takes the life of a law enforcement officer, we will put you away for life. I think that is about as clear and direct as we can become with the already strong prohibition that is in place for armor-piercing bullets that would be used in handguns.

With that, I retain the remainder of my time.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.

Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I will oppose the amendment because it does nothing to protect our law enforcement officers from armor-piercing bullets. All it does say, as I understand it, is if law enforcement officers are killed, under the current law the penalties are going to be greater, including even in the death penalty.

My amendment says, let's stop the armor-piercing bullets now to save lives. Let's be proactive and prevent the loss of lives.
The Senator from Idaho says, well, after they are killed we are going to penalize these people more. My amendment would effectively save lives because we would effectively prohibit the kind of armor-piercing bullets from being sold or available to those who want to do our law enforcement personnel harm.

So it just misses the point, the idea that we are going to do something after that police officer is killed. That will not do anything about these numbers I mention. We have just seen 20 officers killed over the last 10 years, and 17 of them by armor-piercing bullets. That is what they were killed by; and that is what my amendment is focused on. The Senator's amendment will do nothing about preventing that kind of activity. I appreciate his efforts in trying to do something, but this fails the mark.

I withhold my time.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Idaho.

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, in response to the Senator from Massachusetts, his legislation goes at long guns, rifles, and their ammunition. What I did not say, with him coming back into the Chamber, is we do direct the Attorney General to look at, over a period of time, 2 years-no later than that-and report to the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which the Senator serves, a study to see whether what the Senator is proposing in his amendment wipes from the shelves of this country the kind of hunting ammunition we believe it will, and that certainly a good many others do.

I am not insensitive to what the Senator is saying, but I am saying, let's get the facts. We do not want to wipe out half the hunting or two-thirds of the hunting ammunition and the target ammunition in this country. That is legitimate. It is law abiding.
Does it get misused? Yes. Does some of it have armor-piercing capability, to some extent? Yes.

Certainly this is what our intent is. In the meantime, let's toughen the law. Let's send the message to the criminal element in our country that armor-piercing ammunition is flat off limits or you pay a phenomenal price for it.

Is it a deterrent? The Senator from Massachusetts would suggest it is not. In most instances, we find good, tough law enforcement, and a reality known by those who would commit crimes with this kind of ammunition in this country, does serve as a deterrent. That is the intent of the amendment. We believe it is a good amendment.

I am prepared to yield back the remainder of my time if the Senator believes he has adequately covered this issue.

Mr. KENNEDY. No. I just want to respond.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.

Mr. KENNEDY. If I may, Mr. President, I yield myself time.

Let me remind my colleagues that armor-piercing ammunition for rifles and assault weapons is virtually unregulated in the United States of America. A Federal license is not required to sell such ammunition unless firearms are sold as well. Anyone over the age of 18 may purchase this ammunition without a background check, and there is no Federal minimum age for possession. Purchases may be made over the counter, by mail order, by fax, or by Internet, and there is no Federal requirement that dealers retain sale records.

It is this current lawlessness that jeopardizes the safety of police officers. It is this failure of the existing law that has led to 20 fatal shootings of police officers, and will lead to many more unless Congress acts, not studies-acts, not studies.

The facts are well established. The FBI statistics do not lie. We do not need another study. We do not need another report. All we need to do is adopt the underlying legislation that gives the Attorney General the authority and the power to ensure the kind of armor-piercing bullets that are being used, that pierce the armor and kill our law enforcement officials, will be prohibited from use today.

As I outlined in my amendment: "a projectile for a centerfire rifle, designed or marketed as having armor-piercing capability, that the Attorney General determines . . ."-not the Senator from Idaho or the Senator from Massachusetts-"to be more likely to penetrate body armor than standard ammunition of the same caliber."

We either have a problem or we do not. I believe we do. Certainly the families of those brave officers who died believe we do-their families and those police departments. We have an opportunity to do this on next Tuesday. I hope the Craig amendment will be defeated and that the amendment I offered will be accepted.

I am prepared to yield back the remainder of time if the Senator is.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Idaho.

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I thank the Senator. I too am prepared to yield back the remainder of our time.

Let me conclude my comments by saying, it is not the role of the Attorney General of the United States to determine what can or cannot be used in this country as forms of ammunition. It is our job, if we are going to do it. And we should not do it. The marketplace has done it. The Senator has shaped legislation that has controlled types of it, and that has been supported.

I do not think we need to get as arbitrary as some Attorneys General can be and have been in the past as it relates to what their vision is versus what we believe ought to be illegal or legal in this country.

Our job is to make it the law. That is what we are about here at this moment. But it is important that we establish parameters and understandings clearly to determine the kinds of tests that are performance based in what they do to what is now currently legal ammunition in this country.

With that, I yield back the remainder of my time, and ask that the Frist-Craig amendment be set aside to be considered on Tuesday next.

I believe the next item under our unanimous consent is to move to Senator Cantwell for her amendment for an unemployment insurance extension.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. CRAIG. I can't yield. My time is limited. I am sorry. The Senator has had time. Let me continue.

That is the sense of the argument we are dealing with here. Negligent entrustment:

In subparagraph (a)(2), the term "negligent entrustment" means the supplying of a qualified product by a supplier for use by another person when the supplier knows or should know-

That is very important.

•the person to whom the product is supplied is likely to and does use the product in a manner involving unreasonable risk of physical injury to the person or to others.

What are we trying to do here?

Again, I have said time and time again over the last 24 hours it is a very narrow exception, but to entrust us to a century of tort law that says innocent parties are not guilty nor should they be swept into lawsuits if they have met certain standards of the law-in this case, licensed gun dealers and manufacturers.

Did the folks up at Bull's Eye in Tacoma meet those standards? We don't know. But I will tell you the BATF pulled their Federal firearms license. There is an investigation underway. If they lost that many firearms and they didn't notice it and they didn't report it, I am not an attorney, but I have to assume they have a big violation on their hands. If Malvo walks in and pulls a Bushmaster from off the rack and walks out with it and that is not detected, they have a problem on their hands. I believe they
have a problem on their hands, and they are not exempt.

The argument is-and some have used it-they do not even make it to the courthouse. That is not a valid statement.

This is a basis from which you argue before the court and a knowledgeable, and I hope trusting, judge will take these evaluations in hand and make the determination that this is not a frivolous or a junk lawsuit; that there is basis, and the reason there is basis is because there has been a clear violation of Federal law.

If there has not been a violation of Federal law, even though many of us can certainly have great concern about the families
involved, do we continue to suggest that we go out and harass through the courts legal, law-abiding citizens and producers of a legal product in this country simply because it fits the passion of the day or the politics of the moment? I think not. I don't think the Senator from Maryland wants to do that. It is clear if you carve out this exception, you gut the bill because you are saying no, no. We are saying we are giving you all of these exceptions very clearly in the law. I read them to you. They are in the law. It is section 4. That is what we are dealing with. It is a very important part of it.

We think it is the right thing to do at this time. I believe a majority of my colleagues in the Senate agree with that. The reason they agree is for the very reason we have been very specific and clear to adhere to Federal law but to make sure we are not just going to the court for the purpose of expanding the sweep that one might like to take because they do not like guns or they do not like the current law or they want to control them in different ways.

The Federal law is there. It is clear. It is present. The investigation is underway. We cannot try that case here. But I do agree with the Senator from Maryland, we cannot try to, but we can point fingers.

Our bill, S. 1805, sets up a very clear case in which these lawsuits can be effectively argued and a decision made whether there was a rupturing of Federal law or whether we do have law-abiding practitioners in the business of the manufacturing and sale of firearms in this country. That has to be and it must remain the basis of the argument and the basis of this law. The amendment the Senator offers goes directly in the opposite, to carve out special exceptions within the law now and into the future.

I retain the remainder of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

AMENDMENT NO. 2628

Mr. CRAIG. I ask that the Mikulski amendment be set aside for the purpose of introduction of an amendment on behalf of
Majority Leader Frist and myself.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Idaho [Mr. CRAIG], for Mr. Frist, for himself and Mr. Craig, proposes an amendment numbered 2628.

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The amendment is as follows:

(Purpose: To exempt any lawsuit involving a shooting victim of John Allen Muhammad or John Lee Malvo from the definition of
qualified civil liability action that meets certain requirements)

On page 8, line 22, strike "or".

On page 9, line 2, strike the period at the end and insert "; or ".

On page 9, between lines 2 and 3, insert the following:

(vi) an action involving a shooting victim of John Allen Muhammad or John Lee Malvo that meets 1 of the requirements under
clauses (i) through (v).

Mr. DASCHLE. Reserving the right to object, I will not object, but I am told we have not had the opportunity to see the text of these amendments. If we are going to work in good faith, it is very important that on all of these alternative amendments the text be provided if they are available and certainly before they are offered.

Mr. CRAIG. If the minority leader will yield, it is my fault. I apologize. We will place ourselves in a quorum until they have copies.
It is brief and to the point and easy to understand for everyone.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I apologize once again to the Senator from Maryland that the stand-beside amendment I offer in conjunction with hers was not delivered to her. We have a stand-beside Frist-Craig amendment to the Corzine amendment, which may follow immediately. We are copying that now to make sure Senator Corzine and the other side has a copy of it.

My amendment, as you can see, is really very simple, but it is also extremely important. It is simple in this respect: 55 cosponsors of S. 1805 have cosponsored S. 1805 because of its narrowness, of its cleanliness in the fact that we do not clutter up a lot of laws and we create one very limited but very important exemption, and that is junk lawsuits filed by a third party cannot reach through and suggest that someone who produces a legal product can be held liable for that product unless they have broken the law or a person selling that product is not held liable for that product unless they have broken the law.

My amendment says, in essence, if an action involving a shooting victim of John Allen Muhammad or John Lee Malvo meets any of the exceptions of S. 1805, the action will not be barred by this bill.

Again, what are those exceptions? Well, I have read them earlier. Let me repeat them. They are very clearly outlined in section 4 of the bill, and what we say is:

The term "qualified civil liability action" means a civil action brought by any person against a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product, or a trade association, for damages resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a qualified product by the person or a third party.

In other words, if that third party is a guy who breaks the law, but the seller and the manufacturer are not, then the judge looks at that and makes that determination and says no.

But here in the case in Maryland and in Virginia, if it is found that:

an action brought against a transferor convicted under section 924(h) of title 18, United States Code, or a comparable or identical State felony law, by a party directly harmed by the conduct of which the transferee is so convicted-

"Transferee," in this case, in my opinion, at least, is Bull's Eye. They are the ones responsible for that firearm. They are the ones that would have sold it legally. In this case it was stolen from their shop. It appears to have gone unreported.

Secondly:

an action brought against a seller for negligent entrustment or negligence per se. . . .

So we have not swept that away nor will we sweep that away. In fact, I believe we strengthen it, and so does the
Congressional Research Service. While there may be a difference of opinion on that, I think what is significant is that Senator Daschle and I agree. We teamed up together to strengthen this and to clarify it. Quoting the Congressional Research Service, our amendment:

would strike "knowingly and willfully" in the preceding sentence, potentially increasing the likelihood that this exception to the general immunity afforded under the bill would be applicable in any given case.

In this case, it probably strengthens the position we are dealing with here, as the Senator from Maryland and I visit about it.

The third exception that clearly could be applicable, and that my amendment says if found is applicable, in the Muhammad and Malvo case:

an action in which a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the product, and the violation was a proximate cause of the harm for which relief is sought.

In other words, relief for these families who were the victims of John Muhammad and John Lee Malvo.

I believe it is a clear, clean amendment. I don't think it is ambiguous at all. But it does argue one premise in the law that always must be argued, and that is, did Bull's Eye break the law? Well, we are investigating that now. Did the manufacturer of the Bushmaster in any way violate the law? That is probably getting investigated, too, although even the Brady Center doesn't impugn in any way that the manufacturer was involved in this. Those are the facts.

In other words, what I am suggesting by this amendment, what I believe is still clear in 1805, is that we are not exempting the victims of the sniper shootings of DC and the Virginia and Maryland area. It is not our intent to do so. It is our intent to allow them to go to court. It is our intent to allow them to argue this before a judge. It is our intent to allow a judge to make a decision based on these exceptions and now the clearly respelled out exceptions in the Frist-Craig amendment as to whether, based on this law, there can be compensation to these families from, in this instance, a dealer and a manufacturer. That is the essence of it.

I don't believe the courthouse door is locked. All attorneys are entitled to their own opinions. Everybody reads the law a bit differently. So is my opinion stronger than your opinion? I know what my intent is. I know what Senator Daschle's intent is. I know our intent is not to lock the courthouse door. We believe we don't. And it has been thoroughly checked by numerous lawyers. We think our amendment is sound.

I am going to ask the Senate not to gut the underlying 1805 but to vote for the Frist-Craig amendment which will not only
strengthen the amendment, strengthen the position but, I believe, fulfill the concern and the arguments of the Senator from Maryland.

I retain the remainder of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I will use a limited amount of that time. If the Senator from Maryland wishes to close out the debate, I will make my closing statement, and we can move to a vote quickly.

Let me address what the Senator from New Jersey said a moment ago and direct his attention to subsection (v) of section 4.
He talked about a car not functioning properly and somebody being injured. That is called product liability. It says:

(v) an action for physical injuries or property damage resulting directly from a defect in design or manufacture of the product, when used as intended. . . .

Please read the bill when you make those kinds of statements because if the Senator had, that would have been, in my opinion, improper. We are not talking product liability.

Mr. LAUTENBERG. Is the question being referred to me directly?

Mr. CRAIG. No, I am only responding.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Idaho has the floor.

Mr. CRAIG. The Senator knows I am only responding to a comment he made. I am simply suggesting that for the next few
moments he might wish to read that subsection. Here we are not dealing with product liability. It appeared the Bushmaster
tragically operated very well. What is at hand is, Are the people at Bull's Eye involved in wrongdoing? That is the question at hand. And should we go after them?

We are carving that out in a way so that the victims can go after them if they are found guilty of a Federal violation. Let me read what CRS suggests the Daschle-Craig amendment does:

In the case at hand-

They are referring to the DC snipers-

it has been asserted that the firearm-

And we can only say "asserted" at this moment because it is under investigation-

it has been asserted that the firearm used in the D.C.-area sniper shootings "disappeared" from Bull's Eye's place of business "[o]n or about August or September of 2002," and was not reported as missing until November 5, 2002. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 923(g)(6) a licensee-

That is Bull's Eye-

is required to report the theft or loss of a firearm within 48 hours after the theft or loss is discovered. Thus, in the event that it is
established that Bull's Eye was aware that the firearm was missing from its inventory more than 48 hours prior to November 5, 2002, the amendment would appear to lend further support to the application of the exception to immunity under 4(5). . . .

My point is quite simple: If the evidence is there-and I believe the Senator from New Jersey yesterday referenced the presence of Lee Malvo on a video. I was unaware of that. If that is true, that is apparently more evidence. But once again, here we are with a jumble of facts that we really do not know because we were not the investigators; we were not on the scene. We are taking this from newspaper reports.

What I am saying is if the Bull's Eye shop is in violation of the law, then the Frist-Craig amendment or the underlying S. 1805 clearly does protect all of these victims so they have their day in court. The courthouse door is not shut, would not be shut, will not be shut by S. 1805 or the amendment at hand.

I retain the remainder of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I have 8 minutes remaining. I will try not to use it and will yield it back so we can get to the votes on these two amendments.

The Senator from Maryland talked about an American principle, and I agree with her. There is an American principle that says everyone should have their day in court, and she is right. There is a second American principle that says that law-abiding citizens who do law-abiding things should not be dragged into court for frivolous purposes or junk lawsuits. That is the other American principle. It is as old as tort law itself. The responsibility is tied to the individual, unless the individual under law is found totally negligent.

She and I have agreed the case cannot be tried here because we simply do not know the facts. We know a little bit about it. We know bits and pieces about it but we have not seen the BATF's report. We have not seen the kind of investigation that has gone on. I agree with the Senator; everyone should have their day in court. I do not know how some are saying that S. 1805 does not even allow them to get to court.

It allows them to argue before a judge the basis of the law, and the judge will make the determination. I suggest that that is called "in court" and that is exactly what my amendment does. That is what S. 1805 does. It is very clear.

The Senator might be suggesting that this is just one small group. No, no, this is not one small group. This happens to be a tragically large group, by all of our estimation in Virginia and Maryland, but once this is decided how will this precedent be used
by others?

She talks about gutting the opportunity. I suggest her amendment guts S. 1805. Proponents of the amendment claim that it provides an exception for a small group, but any carve-out that is made part of this legislation would have the Government turned on its own principles of equity and justice insofar as the amendment would designate a particular group of people, though sympathetic-and all of us agree to that-different in the eyes of the law than others and justice so far as it would be required to hold remote other responsibilities for the independent actions of two men.

That is the essence of the two amendments. They are very clear before us. It is time we vote on these issues. The Senator from New Jersey is now in the Chamber with his amendment.

Mr. President, how much time do I have?

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator has 5 minutes 45 seconds remaining.

Mr. CRAIG. I yield the remainder of my time. I ask for the yeas and nays on the two amendments.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I say to my colleagues, you have just voted for the Frist-Craig amendment. If you now vote for the Mikulski amendment, you have totally reversed your vote. The Mikulski amendment guts the underlying bill, S. 1805, carves out a substantial exception. If you are supportive of S. 1805, then you vote no.

But do we protect the right of the victims for their day in court? We absolutely do. There are four major exceptions in which we say, if these parties are found guilty, if there was a negligent gun dealer, if there was a negligent manufacturer-and that is a fact and it is proven-then their day in court is there, as it should be.

But we do not allow frivolous third-party lawsuits. That is the underlying premise of the bill. Again, if you voted for Frist-Craig, I would ask you to vote against Mikulski.

I yield back the remainder of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I will be brief and yield back the remainder of my time. Of course, our amendment will be set aside. I will offer a Frist-Craig amendment. I hope we can limit the time on that. All are encouraging we vote sooner rather than later.

I must say, one of the strengths of the underlying bill, S. 1805, is it adopted the same rules for all plaintiffs, no matter how sympathetic or how unsympathetic; no matter how notorious or how mundane the circumstances of their victimization. It creates the kind of legal standards in this country we believe all people should stand under.

The Senator from New Jersey is a man who creates law. The picture beside him is of a man who enforces law. We have obvious and open respect for both, and we should in this country, because we are a country of laws. That gentleman you talked about so eloquently who is pictured beside you is a man who puts on the uniform every day and goes in harm's way.
There is no doubt about it. There is not a Senator on this floor who doesn't respect men and women in uniform, whether they be civil police in this country or are men and women in the armed services.

At the same time, that man enforces law. His life oftentimes is put in much more jeopardy by plea-bargaining the criminal back onto the street day after day in urban America, and they have to go out and rearrest them and rearrest them again. Tragically enough, those criminals go out and steal guns. Sometimes they buy them. And sometimes they lie when they buy them. But most of them are stopped by background checks today. That officer has to face them again.

We understand that principle. That is the history of America. That is the history of law enforcement. The great tragedy today in law is criminal law, in my opinion, that we keep kicking them back to the streets instead of doing the time for the crime and causing that gentleman to have to go out and face them once again because they are a repeat, repeat, repeat offender.

What S. 1805 attempts to establish is plaintiffs' rights should be dependent on settled principles of law, not emotion and not sympathy. If a lawsuit has enough merit under traditional tort standards to be allowed by the bill, we believe that cause of action should be available to all plaintiffs, regardless of their occupation or their employer or whether particularly an attacker had harmed them. In other words, we are not suggesting there be carve-outs and special exemptions.

But clearly, and I can argue and the Senator has already said, I would come back to those five very key exceptions we have placed in S. 1805. I am not going to repeat those. I have repeated them several times tonight. They are in the bill. They are in the bill a majority of the Senators here support, Democrat and Republican. Why do they? Because they bring stability to the law. They create clear standards. They don't say that a law-abiding citizen producing a lawful product is somehow liable if someone takes it and misuses it; that the person who misuses it is the person who ought to be liable. That person ought to be the criminal, if so found guilty. That is a premise of the law and it is an important premise of the law.

I hope my colleagues tonight will oppose the Corzine amendment. It guts the underlying bill. I doubt the Senator from New Jersey planned to vote for S. 1805. I can't view this as a friendly amendment. I don't think it is intended to be. I think it is intended to tear down the fundamental structure built under S. 1805, to establish solid principles, clear understandings, not to allow junk lawsuits to move through, but to allow that gentleman pictured beside you his day in court. Because the courthouse door is not locked. The opportunity to argue before the judge still remains so that suit can be filed, so that case can move on if the principles of the law are met and the standards meet the test.

With that, I yield back the remainder of my time and ask the Corzine amendment be laid aside.

AMENDMENT NO. 2630

Mr. CRAIG. I send to the desk the Frist amendment.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Idaho [Mr. CRAIG], for Mr. Frist for himself and Mr. Craig, proposes an amendment numbered 2630.

Mr. CRAIG. I ask unanimous consent the reading of the amendment be dispensed with.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The amendment is as follows:

(Purpose: To protect the rights of law enforcement officers who are victimized by crime to secure compensation from those who participate in the arming of criminals)

On page 9, between lines 21 and 22, insert the following:

(E) LAW ENFORCEMENT EXCEPTION.-Nothing in this Act shall be construed to limit the right of an officer or employee of any Federal, State, or local law enforcement agency to recover damages authorized under Federal or State law in a civil action that meets 1 of the requirements under clauses (i) through (v) of subparagraph (A).

Mr. CRAIG. I will be brief. I think our colleagues wish that of us tonight. This amendment is not unlike the amendment the Senate accepted a few moments ago in relation to the Mikulski amendment. Let me read it. It is every bit as simple and straightforward as the amendment of the Senator from New Jersey:

Law enforcement exception-Nothing in this Act shall be construed to limit the right of an officer or employee of any Federal, State, or local law enforcement agency to recover damages authorized under Federal or State law in a civil action that meets 1 of the requirements under clause (i) through (v) of subparagraph (A).

Of course, I have read that subparagraph and all of those exceptions to you time and time again over the last several days.

We believe it is clear-cut. We believe that creates the stability within the law. It sets in motion something very important; that is, the old principle of tort law-that it is the individual who is guilty for their actions and they should not be trying to reach through layers upon layers of acts to find somebody who produced a quality product and say you are guilty because you produced it and, therefore, you ought to pay because somebody misused and damaged or took someone's life. We have never done that as a country, and we shouldn't. We have found negligence, and we should where it exists, where there has been willingness, where there has been a violation of law that is found. People ought to pay the price if they don't play by the rules.

In the gun community, I know how important this right is in America, and with this right goes phenomenal responsibility.

This Senate, time and time again, down through the decades has established very specifically those responsibilities because we view this as an extremely valuable right.

I say to the Senator from New Jersey that I am not going to keep that policeman out of the courthouse. I and Americans respect him and his profession too much to say you cannot go after redress, but you must find that the laws that you enforce are the same laws that you respect and must live by.

I retain the remainder of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. CRAIG. I will be as brief as possible. The hour is late.

I know the Senator from New Jersey speaks with a good heart, and I appreciate that. I think we all do. He mentioned two important words just in the last of his closing debate. He mentioned the word "criminal," criminal action, the right to sue, and he mentioned "negligence" and the right to sue. Then he said: We block that policeman from the courthouse door.

I must ask him to return to page 7 of the bill, exception one and exception two:

an action brought against a transferor convicted under section 924(h) of title 18, United States Code, or a comparable or identical State felony law, by a party directly harmed by the conduct of which the transferee is so convicted. . . .

He is talking about criminal action. That action is deemed as a criminal act in the law.

How about negligence? Well, it is the next one down.

It is No. 2:

an action brought against a seller for negligent entrustment or negligence per se. . . .

Let me tell you what the FOP says. I think we all know what the FOP is. That is the Fraternal Order of Police, some 311,000 strong. They oppose the Corzine amendment. We have just visited with them. They called us and they said: Why? Because they do not believe it accomplishes what they would like accomplished, and they like the underlying law.

I think it is fundamentally important that we try to build clean principles within the law. I would have to agree with the Senator from New Jersey that policeman is not going to file or have his attorneys file a junk lawsuit. The Senator is absolutely right. But 31 apparently have been filed, some are under appeals, and 21 of them have been thrown out of court by judges who said: Go away, because that is what this lawsuit is.

Now, oftentimes the municipality and/or the individuals and/or the county will file it in the name of a fallen officer. I can understand the emotion. I think we all feel it. But the judge said the law is the law and there was no basis, and he threw them out. Yet it cost the industry-the law-abiding industry-hundreds of millions of dollars. It is beginning to weaken many of our legitimate, legal gun manufacturers, that oftentimes build the firearm that officer carries on his side to protect himself and his fellow officers in the commission of their responsibilities.

We should not be doing that as a country. But clearly we must insist that the law be clear, unambiguous, and that the officer have his day in court if he is harmed by a criminal or by someone who has acted in a criminal way, someone who has violated the law, someone, through negligence, has somehow caused a firearm to get into the hands of a criminal.

Then the case is brought, and S. 1805 does not block that.

I yield back the remainder of my time, and I ask for the yeas and nays on the Frist-Craig amendment and the Corzine amendment.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

AMENDMENT NO. 2629

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The next order of business is consideration of the Corzine amendment. There are 2 minutes equally divided to be followed by a vote. The yeas and nays have already been ordered.

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I ask my colleagues to vote against the Corzine amendment. I ask it on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police, some 311,000 strong, who oppose this amendment, who oppose a special carve-out in a law that is meant to treat all fairly and equitably. This amendment would gut the underlying bill, S. 1805, and I ask my colleagues to oppose it and vote against it.

I yield back the remainder of my time.

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