LAWSUIT PREEMPTION BILL
<align=center>ADVANCES IN HOUSE HEARING
Yesterday, the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection held a hearing on H.R. 2037. This bill, introduced by U.S. Representatives Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Chris John (D-La.), would block politically-motivated lawsuits that seek to hold gun makers liable for the criminal misuse of their products. Unable to convince lawmakers to ban firearms, anti-gun extremists and several big-city mayors have resorted to trying to circumvent the legislative process and cripple gun makers with financially draining legal fees. H.R. 2037 would put a halt to the coordinated onslaught of frivolous litigation intended to bankrupt gun makers.
During the hearing, Rep. John accurately pointed out that Congress is the proper venue for interstate commerce issues, not the courtrooms, and Rep. Stearns explained the true intentions of the suits. "These suits are different from other lawsuits against an industry. The cities and counties are not representing specific victims, nor are they claiming specific damage against [public] property," he said. Stearns went on to say, "Instead, they are suing because they happen to dislike a product that a company produces and markets legally."
Rep. Stearns, Chairman of the subcommittee, also asked Jeff Reh, the Vice General Manager and General Counsel of firearm manufacturer Beretta, why the city of Boston recently voluntarily dismissed its case against the firearms industry. Reh explained that after Boston reviewed millions of pages of internal firearms industry documents and took numerous depositions, the city realized that it simply did not have a case, and that the firearms industry has a longstanding commitment to promoting safe and responsible gun usage.
NSSF Vice President and General Counsel Larry Keane also submitted testimony, which stated, "These suits have been an unnecessary distraction to our nation’s firearms manufacturers, whose time and attention would be better-spent supplying law enforcement and our armed forces with the equipment they need to protect America and combat global terrorism."
And Dr. Sterling Burnett of the National Center for Policy Analysis testified, "Lawsuit proponents, unable to convince democratically-elected legislators that removing guns from the hands of law-abiding citizens will reduce crime, are attempting to use the courts to impose their views on a skeptical public. By protecting lawful gun makers from frivolous lawsuits, legislators are defending the democratic process."
U.S. Rep. Dianne DeGette (D-Colo.), one of the more extreme anti-gun voices in Congress, tried to raise the inapplicable analogy of the Ford Pinto in her opposition to the bill. She stated the car, "would explode in a ball of flames when the car collided with other objects," then claimed, "Liability suits were brought against the manufacturer of the Pinto, and cars are much safer today."
But U.S. Rep. Ernest Fletcher (R-Ky.) pointed out, "If a gun actually explodes in an individuals face ... the manufacturer could still be held liable, just like Ford Motor Company with the Pinto. What we’re talking about is: Would Ford Motor Company and the Pinto be liable if somebody runs over an innocent bystander? Clearly, that’s not the case."
U.S. Rep. Ed Bryant (R-Tenn.) elaborated, "We don’t hold the car industry responsible for incidents when the driver is irresponsible. If someone who is intoxicated gets behind the wheel of a car and has an accident—you don’t sue the car manufacturer."
Make no mistake, it is critical that H.R. 2037 become law in order to thwart anti-gun extremists from using reckless lawsuits to bankrupt the firearms industry. Our Right to Keep and Bear Arms necessarily requires the ability to buy firearms, so what practical good is the Second Amendment if we don’t have a viable American firearms industry? H.R. 2037 protects firearms manufacturers that comply with the law from being held accountable for the actions of criminals, but does not exempt them from traditional, legitimate product liability or other negligence suits.
And while NRA has been extremely successful with passing reckless lawsuit preemption bills at the state level, a federal prohibition is critical. Kansas Governor Bill Graves (R) signed reckless lawsuit preemption into law yesterday, making Kansas the 28th state to enact such a prohibition. Governor Graves’ action deserves thanks from the pro-gun community, but this still leaves 22 states where anti-gun extremists can continue to shop their baseless lawsuit agenda.
There are currently 221 co-sponsors for H.R. 2037, three more than a simple majority of House members, but that still does not guarantee passage of this critical reform. The more supporters we can enlist, the better the chance will be for this bill becoming law. The following eight House members are considered possible co-sponsors, and NRA members in their states are urged to contact them and request their support: Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), Nathan Deal (R-Ga.), Jennifer Dunn (R-Wash.), Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), Dan Miller (R-Fla.), Thomas Petri (R-Wisc.), Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), and Jerry Weller (R-Ill.). You can reach these lawmakers by calling the House switchboard at (202) 225-3121, but to find additional contact information, those on the Internet can use our "Write Your Reps" tool.
In addition, U.S. Senators Zell Miller (D-Ga.) and Larry Craig (R-Id.) are expected to introduce the Senate version of H.R. 2037 very soon, so be sure to contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to sign on as co-sponsors, once the bill is introduced. You can reach your U.S. Senators by calling (202) 224-3121, but to find additional contact information for them, use our "Write Your Reps" tool.
Finally, be sure to contact the following pro-gun U.S. Representatives who participated in yesterday’s committee hearing to thank them for their support of this critical reform: Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), Chris John (D-La.), Billy Tauzin (R-La.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Nathan Deal (R-Ga.), Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.), Ed Bryant (R-Tenn.), Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Lee Terry (R-Neb.), and Charlie Bass (R-N.H.). You can reach these lawmakers by calling the House switchboard at (202) 225-3121, or use our "Write Your Reps" tool for additional contact information. Prepared testimony from the hearing is also through the Library of Congress website.
AIRLINE PILOTS PETITION PRESIDENT BUSH
Last November 19, President George Bush signed into law the "Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001," which included language that would allow properly trained commercial pilots, co-pilots, and flight engineers to carry firearms aboard commercial airplanes. But thus far, there has been no implementation of a program to train and equip flight deck crew members who wish to be prepared to use firearms as a last resort to defend the cabins of commercial aircraft from hijackers. Because of this lack of action, several airline pilot organizations have sent a letter to President Bush, asking him to intercede to ensure the establishment of a program that will meet one of the intended goals of the "Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001"—a means to ensure that airline flight crews will be properly trained and equipped to act as an effective last line of defense against terrorists or other hijackers.
Along with the letter to President Bush, these organizations that represent the concerns of airline pilots are also looking for public support of their efforts. The letter to President Bush mentions that polls "indicate overwhelming support" from the general public for arming flight crew members, and an online petition has been set up for people to show this support. The petition will remain open until April 28, so those wishing to assist the pilots should sign it ASAP.
<align=center>NEXT PHASE IN CAMPAIGN OF LIES
The anti-gun lobby that calls itself "Americans for Gun Safety" (AGS)—in spite of the fact that it has exactly zero members and no gun safety programs—continues to promote attacks on traditional American gun shows by using a mixture of lies, deception, and the anti-gun movement’s shameless strategy of exploiting the war on terrorism to promote attacks on the Second Amendment.
The latest AGS attack involves a radio ad campaign in Oregon that targets that state’s pro-gun U.S. Senator Gordon Smith (R), allegedly because he has not embraced the AGS-approved McCain/ Schumer/Lieberman bill (S. 890) that seeks to close down gun shows as we know them today. This radio ad mirrors print ads AGS has run that attempt to exploit our nation’s concerns over terrorism by trying to link the events of September 11 to gun shows. The ad mentions last year’s case involving a felon in Michigan, linked to terrorists, who was caught, prosecuted, and convicted for violating a number of existing firearm laws. The AGS ad conveniently fails to mention that S. 890, the current centerpiece of its legislative agenda, would not have stopped this felon from doing what he was convicted of doing. It was the simple enforcement of existing laws that caught him and sent him to prison.
We can expect AGS to target other legislators in the weeks to come, and the pro-gun community should rally behind the victims of AGS’s false advertising campaign. Contact Senator Gordon Smith and thank him for not supporting the AGS assault on gun shows, and urge him to remain opposed to any attempts to shut down these traditional American events. Sen. Smith can be reached by calling (202) 224-3753. For those on the Internet, you can find additional contact information by using our "Write Your Reps" tool.
A LOOK AT THE STATES
, which seeks to register .50 caliber BMG rifles and treat them like "assault weapons" by creating a permit system, was heard before the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, April 16. Only partial testimony was allowed, with the remainder of testimony and a vote to be taken Tuesday, April 23. For the names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of the Assembly Public Safety Committee members, check out our "Write Your Reps" tool. For the full text of the bill, log on to www.leginfo.ca.gov. As mentioned in last week’s fax, Senator Don Perata, has announced his intention to push through a measure (SCA 12) that would add a five cent sales tax on every cartridge sold. The amendment is slated for a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, April 24. Call your representatives today and ask that they vote "NO" on SCA 12.
Right to Carry (RTC) legislation cleared another hurdle this week when the House Appropriations Committee approved HB 1410 by an 8-2 vote. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Lois Tochtrop (D-34) and Sen. Ken Chlouber (R-4), will be up for a vote in the full House on Monday, so it is vital that members call their Representatives and urge them to support this bill. The House Information line is (303) 866-2904. Also, Precinct Caucuses will be held in Colorado on Tuesday, April 23. This is your chance to show support for pro-freedom candidates seeking office. For more information on times and locations in your area, contact either the Colorado Democratic Party at (303) 830-8989 or the State Republican Party (303) 758-3333.
House Bill 97, an important RTC reform bill that expands exemptions for certain law-enforcement officers and officers of the Court, was passed by overwhelming margins by the House and Senate this week. Additionally, this measure creates criminal penalties for RTC instructors and RTC instructor-trainers who provide permits without training. HB 97 now awaits Governor Paul Patton’s (D) signature.
LOUISIANA & WYOMING:
The Louisiana State Police announced that on March 28, Louisiana signed a reciprocal agreement with Wyoming that established the states would recognize each other’s valid RTC permits. Wyoming is the fifth state to sign such an agreement with Louisiana, and the Department of Public Safety will continue to review other states for possible reciprocal agreements.
The Missouri Senate has two bills on the calendar in need of support. Senator Cauthorn’s (R-18) RTC bill, SB 938, and SB 689 (Gibbons, R-15), which establishes Project Exile in Missouri, are scheduled but have not been brought up yet. Call your Senator at (573) 751- 3824 and tell him to support these bills on the floor. In addition, HB 1729, Rep. Barnitz’s (D-150) RTC bill, was heard on April 18 by the House and has been laid over for amendment. Please contact your Representative and urge them to support the RTC. The House Information Line is (573) 751-3659.