Monday, October 24, 2005

The NRA is EVIL, EVIL I Tell You!!!

The Des Moines Register Editorial Board has a boilerplate editorial bemoaning the passage of the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" (S. 397).
The gun industry has built its popularity on promoting the 2nd Amendment Â? Americans have a right to bear arms and protect themselves. But when it comes to protecting itself, the industry runs to Congress. Lawmakers, like victims of an armed robbery, give the industry everything it demands.
Okay, it's not just the "gun industry" that's promoting this law. It's citizens like yours truly who are concerned that the anti-gun lobby (I wonder if the REB considers anti-gun crusaders as "special interest groups"?) will use civil litigation to destroy the gun industry.
This legislation is an exercise in special-interest politics. No other industry enjoys the protection Congress wants to grant the gun industry.
Maybe that is because no other industry (at least yet...) has its existence threatened by "tort gone wild". Make no mistake about it, anti-gun groups are engaged in an incrementalist campaign to eliminate private ownership of firearms. These people believe that guns themselves are the problem. They really believe this and will do anything they can to achieve their goal.
The gun industry likely isn't responsible for the acts of individuals who use its products to commit crimes.
Then the REB should have not a problem with this legislation. Here is the "Purposes" section of the act in full:
(1) To prohibit causes of action against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers of firearms or ammunition products, and their trade associations, for the harm solely caused by the criminal or unlawful misuse of firearm products or ammunition products by others when the product functioned as designed and intended.

(2) To preserve a citizen's access to a supply of firearms and ammunition for all lawful purposes, including hunting, self-defense, collecting, and competitive or recreational shooting.

(3) To guarantee a citizen's rights, privileges, and immunities, as applied to the States, under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, pursuant to section 5 of that Amendment.

(4) To prevent the use of such lawsuits to impose unreasonable burdens on interstate and foreign commerce.

(5) To protect the right, under the First Amendment to the Constitution, of manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers of firearms or ammunition products, and trade associations, to speak freely, to assemble peaceably, and to petition the Government for a redress of their grievances.

(6) To preserve and protect the Separation of Powers doctrine and important principles of federalism, State sovereignty and comity between sister States.

(7) To exercise congressional power under art. IV, section 1 (the Full Faith and Credit Clause) of the United States Constitution. .

There is nothing in this legislation that prevents a civil suit being filed when there is evidence that a manufacturer or dealer sells firearms to groups or individuals that they have reason to believe are up to no good.
Then again, there may be some cases where gun manufacturers or dealers are negligent. Again, it's up to a court to decide.
I agree. And so do the Congresscritters that voted for the Act. If the REB had actually read the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, they would know that it lists all of the conditions where a civil suit can be brought against gun manufacturers and dealers. Don't believe me? Well, read it yourself:
(A) IN GENERAL- The term `qualified civil liability action' means a civil action or proceeding or an administrative proceeding brought by any person against a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product, or a trade association, for damages, punitive damages, injunctive or declaratory relief, abatement, restitution, fines, or penalties, or other relief' resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a qualified product by the person or a third party, but shall not include--
(i) an action brought against a transferor convicted under section 924(h) of title 18, United States Code, or a comparable or identical State felony law, by a party directly harmed by the conduct of which the transferee is so convicted;

(ii) an action brought against a seller for negligent entrustment or negligence per se;

(iii) an action in which a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product knowingly violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the product, and the violation was a proximate cause of the harm for which relief is sought, including--

(I) any case in which the manufacturer or seller knowingly made any false entry in, or failed to make appropriate entry in, any record required to be kept under Federal or State law with respect to the qualified product, or aided, abetted, or conspired with any person in making any false or fictitious oral or written statement with respect to any fact material to the lawfulness of the sale or other disposition of a qualified product; or

(II) any case in which the manufacturer or seller aided, abetted, or conspired with any other person to sell or otherwise dispose of a qualified product, knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that the actual buyer of the qualified product was prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm or ammunition under subsection (g) or (n) of section 922 of title 18, United States Code;

(iv) an action for breach of contract or warranty in connection with the purchase of the product;

(v) an action for death, physical injuries or property damage resulting directly from a defect in design or manufacture of the product, when used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner, except that where the discharge of the product was caused by a volitional act that constituted a criminal offense then such act shall be considered the sole proximate cause of any resulting death, personal injuries or property damage; or

(vi) and action or proceeding commenced by the Attorney General to enforce the provisions of chapter 44 of title 18 or chapter 53 of title 26, United States Code.
Maybe I'm a simpleton, but it seems to me that these exceptions cover the gamut of potential malfeasance on the part of gun manufacturers and dealers.

So we're left with two equally unsavory possibilities to account for the cluelessness of the piece. 1 - The REB never actually read the Act. 2 - The REB did read the act, but intentionally... well... let's say "misrepresented" it to their readers.

But that's just crazy talk. The professional journalists at The Des Moines Register would never, never compromise their professional integrity to promote their agenda.


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