Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Chris W. Cox's Political Report, August 2005

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

POLITICAL REPORT

CHRIS COX, NRA-ILA Executive Director

The same-song chorus of reactions to a bill to reform D.C. gun laws is not a new one. But now, another obscure D.C. law has emerged as a major threat to gun owners all across the nation. This is a law you have probably never even heard or read about.

The outcry was predictable. Several U.S. Senators recently held a press conference to announce their introduction of a Senate bill to reform the gun laws in our nation's capital. Local politicians immediately teamed up with the hometown media elite to declare their outrage.

D.C.'s Representative in Congress called the bill an "attack on our children." The city mayor called the bill a "vicious attack" and an "insult" to the children. TheWashington Postchimed in with concerns about "childhood shooting deaths."

The same-song chorus of reactions to a bill to reform D.C. gun laws is not a new one. But now, another obscure D.C. law has emerged as a major threat to gun owners all across the nation. This is a law you have probably never even heard or read about.

Call your Senators and Congressman (Capitol Hill Switchboard: 202: 224-3121) today. Urge them to support S. 397 and H.R. 800, and to vote for this legislation without any anti-gun amendments. Visit www.nraila.org for contact info.

Called the "Assault Weapon Manufacturing Strict Liability Act," the law was passed as an empty rhetorical gesture in 1990. The law holds the manufacturer, dealer or importer of any "assault weapon" or "machine gun" strictly liable for the damages arising from injuries or deaths resulting from the firearm's discharge in the District. "Strictly liable" means just that--held directly responsible for the criminal acts of others. Do not pass Go; do not seek due process or respect for hundreds of years of legal precedent to the contrary, because the court will ignore you. The law says what it says. Anyone in the District can file a suit claiming millions of dollars in damages, and then the gun maker proceeds directly to court. If a gun named in the law was used illegally by a criminal, the gun maker will be hit with a judgment ordering the gun maker to pay all costs for the mayhem caused by that criminal act.

There's more. While the law applies on its face only to "assault weapons" and "machine guns," it relies on the definition of such firearms in the D.C. code. And wouldn't you know it, the firearms forensic experts on the D.C. Council have a somewhat broader idea than most of what constitutes such a firearm. In the fine print of the D.C law, the definition includes any firearm that can shoot semi-automatically more than 12 rounds without manual reloading. So in truth, the law applies to any semi-automatic firearm that can accept a detachable magazine.

The law is so outrageous that it sat dormant for more than a decade, too preposterous for even the legal vultures in the gun ban lobby to exploit. But when baseless lawsuits against the gun industry became a rampant cancer upon our judicial system, the mayor of the District couldn't resist the temptation to file a lawsuit against the industry under the law's absurd provisions.

First dismissed, then appealed, then appealed again to the full D.C. Court of Appeals, the lawsuit was recently upheld by a vote of 8 to 1 in the Appeals Court. It took 48 pages of convoluted opinion for the District's top judges to justify their votes in favor of the law.

Since the plague of baseless lawsuits began, we have consistently warned that all it would take to bring our rights to the brink of ruin is one rogue judge or jury. It is not particularly surprising that the gun ban lobby managed to find eight of them right here in the nation's capital. What is surprising is that it took this long. The wheels of justice grind slowly, and apparently the wheels of injustice roll at an equal pace. But the injustice of this ruling is now poised to run roughshod over our rights.

Here's why. The firearms covered under the law are made by most of the nation's most famous and successful gun makers, as well as hundreds of smaller manufacturers. Thousands of violent crimes are committed with illegal firearms in the nation's capital every year. All of these manufacturers are now subject to being hauled into court by every victim of any such crime.

Worse yet, the ruling compounds the liability exposure of companies by holding that plaintiffs who do not know the identity of the firearm used in the crime may sue, and seek "discovery," from the entire field of manufacturers of guns covered under the law. Every time such a suit is filed, hundreds of companies will incur thousands of dollars in legal fees apiece, simply to comply with fishing expeditions into the records, and then the pockets, of lawful companies manufacturing non-defective products. In a study of understatement, the counsel for one of the most prominent and successful manufacturers predicted "frequent, costly, and quickly ruinous" litigation under the D.C. law.

Even some of our adversaries in the anti-gun media have expressed concern over the ramifications of these lawsuits. TheWashington Posteditorialized that "the rash of lawsuits against the industry is troubling . . . litigation is not the answer to America's problem with guns."

That's because the situation has become truly dire. The lawsuits have already bled the industry of more than $250 million in defense costs, with much more of the same now in the forecast thanks to the D.C. law. Several manufacturers have already declared bankruptcy under this mountain of legal bills--with many more teetering on the brink of financial ruin. One major manufacturer has already warned the Pentagon that these lawsuits, if left unchecked, will jeopardize the supply pipeline of guns and ammunition needed by our military and law enforcement officers. Not to mention the rest of us. Plants will be closed, communities will be devastated, and our armed forces may end up at the mercy of foreign companies to supply our troops.

Now, the only court of appeal left is the U.S. Supreme Court, which generally ignores outlandish rulings until and unless they are presented with a contrary ruling from another Circuit. That contrary ruling will not come from the federal courts in Brooklyn, where notorious anti-gun judge Jack Weinstein is expected to issue a separate, massive judgment against the firearm industry in September of this year.

The only other solution is now on the floor of Congress--S. 397 and H.R. 800, the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act." These reform bills will do one thing only--put an end to the cancerous plague of lawsuits that blame our firearm industry for the criminal acts of third parties. Both chambers of Congress are gearing up now for what promises to be a ferocious debate. On one side is the gun-ban lobby and its billionaire donors, its ringleaders in Congress, the anti-gun media, and a horde of gun ban lawyers coached on by anti-gun, activist judges. On the other side are me and you, and all the strength we can muster to make justice prevail.

Make no mistake. If we lose this battle in Congress it will mean bankruptcy and financial strangulation for the entire American firearms industry. It will mean no American companies making guns for the military, police, or you and me. It will mean no importers bringing foreign-made guns into our country, and it will mean that retailers will have no guns to sell at any price.

Call your Senators and Congressman today. Urge them to support S. 397 and H.R. 800, and to vote for this legislation without any anti-gun amendments. This is a landmark battle, of the unique kind where the power of our grassroots can overcome the seemingly insurmountable forces of opposition arrayed against us. But only if each and every one of us reaches deep within to summon the will to prevail against all odds and seize victory.

Call today. Tomorrow may be too late.

 

TRENDING NOW
Biden Administration Bans Importation of Russian Ammunition

News  

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Biden Administration Bans Importation of Russian Ammunition

The Biden Administration’s Department of State announced that it will soon prohibit the importation of Russian ammunition into the United States. According to a release on the Department of State’s website, “[n]ew and pending permit applications ...

Virginia: Terry McAuliffe Wants to Ban Guns, Register Gun Owners, and Restrict Carry

News  

Monday, October 18, 2021

Virginia: Terry McAuliffe Wants to Ban Guns, Register Gun Owners, and Restrict Carry

Virginians are increasingly exercising their Second Amendment rights. NICS Checks in the commonwealth were up more than 60-percent from 2019 to 2020. From 2019 to 2021 there was a 21-percent increase in the number of ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

NYSRPA Case Exposes Biden’s Anti-Second Amendment Bias, Vindicates Opposition to Garland

News  

Monday, October 18, 2021

NYSRPA Case Exposes Biden’s Anti-Second Amendment Bias, Vindicates Opposition to Garland

Further evidence of Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland’s contempt for the Second Amendment has emerged in recent weeks.

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

The View Doesn’t Appreciate a Right

News  

Monday, October 18, 2021

The View Doesn’t Appreciate a Right

Women, and especially black women, are increasingly buying firearms for self-defense. This reality did not sit well with the hosts of a somehow still-running daytime talk show.

Ohio: Senate Passes Emergency Powers Bill

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Ohio: Senate Passes Emergency Powers Bill

Yesterday, the Senate voted 23-7 to pass Senate Bill 185, to guarantee that Second Amendment rights remain protected during emergencies.

DOJ Releases Biden Gun Confiscation Order Legislation

News  

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

DOJ Releases Biden Gun Confiscation Order Legislation

DOJ has made clear that Garland’s selective definition of “civil rights” has no room for the Second Amendment...

Anti-gunners Launch Campaign to Intimidate U.S. Supreme Court as Second Amendment Case Looms

News  

Monday, October 11, 2021

Anti-gunners Launch Campaign to Intimidate U.S. Supreme Court as Second Amendment Case Looms

For many decades, gun control proponents who saw their fortunes wane in legislatures from coast to coast and who were unable to get traction with Congress could at least console themselves with the thought that ...

Ohio: Senate Committee Hearing Constitutional Carry & Emergency Powers Bills

Monday, October 4, 2021

Ohio: Senate Committee Hearing Constitutional Carry & Emergency Powers Bills

Tomorrow, the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee is holding a second proponent testimony hearing for Senate Bill 215, the constitutional carry bill. In addition, Senate Bill 185, to guarantee that Second Amendment rights remain protected ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

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.