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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 9, No. 20 5/17/2002



S. 2268

, the Senate version of reckless lawsuit preemption, is rapidly gaining support. This bill, along with the House companion (H.R. 2037), seeks to block politically-motivated lawsuits that attempt to hold law-abiding gun makers liable for the criminal misuse of their products. Last week, five Senators had signed their names to S. 2268—introduced by U.S. Senators Larry Craig (R-Id.) and Zell Miller (D-Ga.)—but thanks to the encouragement of NRA members and the pro-gun community, a total of 13 Senators have now signed on. This is excellent progress, but the bill still needs more support. The House companion already has more than half of that chamber’s members signed on as co-sponsors (227), and has progressed through subcommittee, so our focus has shifted to recruiting more support for the Senate bill. Please contact your U.S. Senators at (202) 224-3121 to urge them to co-sponsor this critical legislation. To find additional contact information, use our "Write Your Reps" tool.

As for the House bill, H.R. 2037, we reported last week that the U.S. House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade & Consumer Protection approved it by voice vote. During last week’s subcommittee meeting—the process that follows hearings and which is referred to as the "markup" session—U.S. Representative Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) introduced substitute language to H.R. 2037. Stearns, who originally introduced the bill with Representative Chris John (D-La.), offered his substitute to address the "negligent entrustment" issue. Stearns’ language makes it clear that no protection is provided for a person if he supplies a firearm or ammunition to a person who the seller "knows or should know the person to whom the product is supplied is likely to use the product, and in fact does use the product, in a manner involving unreasonable risk of physical injury to himself and others."

During his opening statement, Rep. John pointed out that these reckless lawsuits threaten billions of dollars in commerce. He went further and explained that those who depend on gun manufacturers for jobs could be seriously harmed by these lawsuits, pointing out that lifestyles and livelihoods in Louisiana and across the nation are threatened by the suits. Rep. John also cautioned that if these baseless suits are allowed to continue, every industry in America could be attacked in a similarly baseless way.

U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) gave strong support for the legislation, and remarked that if these lawsuits are not stopped, similar reckless suits against automobile manufacturers may be next. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) supported Dingell’s concerns with an accurate analogy, pointing out that opponents of this legislation seem to be saying that if a person drives his car into a crowd of people on a street corner, the city where the accident occurred should be able to sue the car manufacturer.

Rep. Dianne DeGette (D-Colo.)—one of Congress’s more extreme anti-gun voices—made the expected objections to any relief from baseless lawsuits being extended to gun manufacturers. She even went so far as to claim that NRA—which is clearly not a member of the firearms industry—would be protected from lawsuits. Clearly, DeGette is also opposed to pro-Second Amendment advocacy groups exercising their right to free speech as protected under the First Amendment, most recently exemplified by her support of the recently-enacted campaign finance "reform" law.

Be sure to contact the following pro-gun Representatives to thank them for their support of this critical reform: Nathan Deal (R-Ga.), Charlie Bass (R-N.H.), Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), John Dingell (D-Mich.), Earnest Fletcher (R-Ky.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Lee Terry (R-Neb.), Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and George Radanovich (R-Calif.). And a special thanks should be extended to Chris John (D-La.) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), who have spearheaded the efforts to date to ultimately guide this legislation through the House. You can reach these lawmakers by calling the House switchboard at (202) 225-3121, but to find additional contact information, use our "Write Your Reps" tool.



In March, the gun-ban lobby formerly known as HCI announced its endorsement of U.S. Representative Lynn Rivers (D) in the August 6 Democratic primary for Michigan’s newly drawn 15th Congressional District. Rivers is currently serving her fourth term as the U.S. Representative in Michigan’s 13th District but, due to redistricting, she must now run in the new 15th District against U.S. Representative John Dingell (D), the current Representative of Michigan’s 16th District who must also run in the newly-formed 15th District. (Due to the redistricting process, Michigan lost its 16th District.) The winner of this primary is expected to easily win election in November, as the district has been drawn to heavily favor Democratic Party candidates.

Electing Rivers is touted as one of the gun-ban lobby’s "top priorities," and goes on to hail her as "a committed advocate for stronger gun laws." Rivers’ endorsement—issued through the Brady Voter Education Fund—also praises the lawmaker for supporting legislation that would shut down traditional American gun shows, and for voting against a bill in 1996 that would have repealed the 1994 ban on certain semi-automatic firearms.


In preparation for the upcoming campaign season, NRA-ILA is hosting FREE Grassroots-Election Workshops in several areas across the country. The first upcoming event will be in Mahwah, New Jersey, on May 22, followed by one in Charleston, West Virginia, on June 1. Three Workshops are scheduled for Arkansas—Fayetteville on June 4, Jonesboro on June 6, and Little Rock on June 8—and there will be two held on June 15—one in Orlando, Florida, and one in Dearborn, Michigan. At these Workshops, you will learn what you can do in your own community to ensure pro-gun candidates are elected to office this election season. NRA members who are interested in attending should contact the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683 for details and to reserve their spots, but they can also reserve their spots on-line.




, Oregon, and Pennsylvania will host primary elections this Tuesday, May 21. NRA members in these states should have already received information on candidates endorsed by the NRA-Political Victory Fund for the primary election, so please be sure to go to the polls and support pro-gun candidates for office, and encourage your family, friends, and fellow firearm owners to do the same. NRA members in these states who have not received this information can call the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683.




Former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III will be the keynote speaker at the 2002 Colorado Civil Justice League (CCJL) Public Policy Forum on Tuesday, May 21, where he will be introduced by NRA-ILA Colorado state liaison Mary Anne Bradfield. The CCJL is a state organization that is on the cutting edge of civil justice and product liability reform. The forum will be held from 7:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at the Westin Tabor Center in Denver, and registration is $35.00. To register, contact the CCJL at 303-860-7623 or go to www.civiljusticeleague.com. Plan to come out and hear one of President Reagan’s closest advisors discuss baseless lawsuits, such as those against gun makers, and their impact on law and society.


Due to a solid turnout of Delaware NRA members at the state capitol, SB190, the mandatory "locking device" bill was pulled from the agenda last Tuesday, and has been rescheduled to be brought up for possible consideration on Thursday, June 6, after the legislature’s two-week recess. NRA-ILA will keep you posted on developments, should SB 190 resurface for consideration.


Lame duck Governor Parris Glendening

(D) vetoed the Sunday Hunting bill. In actuality, the bill did more to extend the hunting season than it would have done for Sunday hunting, but Governor Glendening’s anti-gun/anti-hunting tunnel vision kept him from seeing the value of this legislation, given that the state has a serious deer overpopulation problem. The bill called for only one Sunday of deer hunting and in only seven counties, but it would have extended the deer hunting season from 13 days to at least 21 days.


On Wednesday, May 22, at 11:00 a.m., Professor John Lott, the author of "More Guns Less Crime," will provide proponent testimony for HB 274, the Right to Carry legislation that is before the Senate Civil Justice Committee. Please make plans to attend this hearing in the North Hearing Room of the Statehouse in Columbus and show your support for HB 274.


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.