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Reckless Lawsuit Bill Introduced In US Senate

Friday, March 21, 2003

U.S. Senators Larry Craig (R-Id.)—also an NRA Director—and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) introduced the Senate’s version of reckless lawsuit preemption, S. 659, on Wednesday, March 19. Fifty-two Senators have signed on to this bill—which seeks to end the gun-ban lobby’s efforts to drive law-abiding firearm manufacturers into bankruptcy under the crushing weight of their predatory, illegitimate lawsuits—representing a majority of the Senate’s 100 members. With nine Democrats already signed on as cosponsors, including Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid (D-Nev.), as well as every Senate Republican who holds a leadership position, S. 659 has solid bipartisan and leadership support. Coupled with the February 27 introduction of the House version of reckless lawsuit preemption, H. R. 1036, the anti-gun extremists at the Brady Campaign/HCI must be gravely concerned Congress is prepared to remove one of the principal weapons from the gun-ban lobby’s arsenal.

But until reckless lawsuit preemption becomes law, the firearm and ammunition industry will continue to be subject to the threat of predatory litigation. HCI and anti-gun big city mayors will continue to shop for judicial venues where they can find judges and juries that are sympathetic to their gun-ban agenda.

In fact, as we reported last week, a ruling by a judge in New Jersey will allow three cases promoted by anti-gun mayors and HCI to proceed, and this week a judge in West Virginia made a similar decision to allow another HCI-backed case to continue. These rulings, while at the earliest stages of the cases, represent the need for reckless lawsuit preemption legislation. While firearm manufacturers remain confident they will prevail, as long as these baseless, meritless cases are allowed to proceed, they will be a draining financial burden for all gun makers—a cost that will inevitably be passed on to future gun purchasers. In a response to the ruling in New Jersey, National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane said, "[These cases] are ultimately doomed to failure because their allegations have been proven to be without basis in fact." He went on to state, "Today’s decision demonstrates the urgent need for Congress to pass common sense legal reform in order to restore integrity and fairness to our judicial system." Keane voiced his support for reckless lawsuit preemption, saying, "This abuse of the legal system could be stopped with the passage of [H.R.] 1036, written to protect law-abiding manufacturers from such groundless suits. More than 30 states have already passed similar legislation. Those with an interest in manufacturing or selling manufactured goods of any kind should consider asking their Representatives and Senators to quickly pass HR 1036 and [S. 659]."

Those lawmakers who have already signed on to these bills deserve our thanks, so please call them to express your support. Those who have not should be encouraged to sign on as cosponsors. To find out if your federal lawmakers have signed on yet, go to the Library of Congress website.

You can reach your U.S. Representative by calling (202) 225-3121, and your U.S. Senators by calling (202) 224-3121. For additional contact information, use our "Write Your Representatives" tool.

Read NRA-ILA`s Fact Sheet on S. 659

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.