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Frist Comments on S. 397

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Just a brief note to let you know that the 109th Congress is taking yet another step down the path of restoring a little common sense to our out-of-control legal system.

Overzealous trial lawyers - the same lawyers who are driving doctors out of the practice of medicine with their frivolous lawsuits - have long had the gun industry in their crosshairs.

Since 1997, more than 30 cities and counties have sued firearm companies in an attempt to force them to change the way they make and sell guns.

The tacit goal, really, is to drive these companies out of business.

Endless lawsuits have been filed...the majority of which are found to be WITHOUT MERIT and dismissed.

Doesn't matter, though. Too often, the damage is done.

Local U.S. firearm manufacturers have already spent $200 million in legal fees to defend themselves against these frivolous lawsuits.

To put that in perspective, that's MORE than the ENTIRE INDUSTRY made in TOTAL PROFITS in 1999.

Fact is, this industry employs honest, hard-working Americans.

In many small communities, gun manufacturers are the biggest employer in town. They supply our nation's police officers; they supply our nation's military.

I've toured some of these factories and I've spoken with the employees.

As one chapter of the United Steelworkers of America puts it: We are just one defeat away from bankruptcy.

Well, we're just NOT going to let overzealous trial lawyers get away with putting one more American out of work.

Over the past several months, we have taken a stand against frivolous class-action and bankruptcy lawsuits.

The time has come to pass meaningful gun liability reform - reform that will protect law abiding gun manufacturers from trial lawyers.

As Majority Leader I have brought to the floor of the Senate the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

This common sense measure seeks to end the frivolous lawsuits that are harming the industry. It enjoys the bipartisan support of 61 Senators. For good reason...

It simply seeks to protect these gun manufacturers when a 3rd party uses a firearm negligently or in a criminal act.

Again...a 3rd party.

Americans can STILL - as a matter of principle - sue gun manufacturers for negligence in producing a firearm...or for knowingly breaking the law.

This legislation simply seeks to protect the industry from frivolous lawsuits stemming from actions entirely out of their control. Period.

Make no mistake, our sympathies are ALWAYS first and foremost with crime victims and their families. Too many families have been devastated by criminals wielding lethal firearms.

But let's place the blame where it belongs...with the CRIMINALS.

THEY should be held accountable. THEY should be punished.

We need to realize that solving our crime problems in America will require us to take many steps...such as cracking down on the illegal possession of guns and enforcing the laws that are already on the books.

We don't solve the problem of crime in America by unjustly targeting the gun industry; we do it by targeting unjust criminals.

That's what this legislation is all about, and I hope you will join me in supporting it.

Bill Frist, M.D. Senate Majority Leader

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