The Boston Progressive - Under The Fold

Recycled news and (hopefully) original commentary from a New England Progressive perspective -- the full text of items shown on the main page

Friday, October 21, 2005

Retrograde Gun Reform

Yesterday the House of Representative passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (S. 397), and the bill is now going to go to the White House for presidential approval. (You can use the THOMAS Search engine to find the bill (use either the title or the bill number) )

This bill, in effect, prohibits all lawsuits against gun dealers, importers, exporters and manufacturers for crimes committed by guns that they have made or sold.

The bill also nullifies all current and pending suits in this area, without giving any recourse to those seeking redress through the courts. The opponents of the bill have already stated that they will seek to overturn at least that portion of the bill after it is signed.

  1. SEC. 3. PROHIBITION ON BRINGING OF QUALIFIED CIVIL LIABILITY ACTIONS IN FEDERAL OR STATE COURT.
    (a) In General- A qualified civil liability action may not be brought in any Federal or State court.
    (b) Dismissal of Pending Actions- A qualified civil liability action that is pending on the date of enactment of this Act shall be immediately dismissed by the court in which the action was brought or is currently pending

I don't think they will have much luck if they will be relying on any reading of the ex-post facto clause of the U.S. Constitution, since the ex post facto clause is intended to protect against after-the-act criminalization or increases in punishment for an act after the act has been committed.

However, it will be ironic if the bill's supporters try to say that the U.S. Supreme Court's reading of the ex-post facto clause, which many have condemned as "expanding" on the original intent, is now to be relied upon for the basis to protect the provision.

I don't like retroactive bills of any sort, and especially ones that provide no alternative avenue for cases already brought.

I especially don't like this bill because of its breadth -- because of the wording of the bill, acts of negligence by the manufacturer of a handgun, other than strict defective product's actions appear to be barred. As a case in point, there is currently a negligence suit being heard against handgun manufacturer Kara Arms, claiming they were negligent in that they failed to get a background check on an employee working in their plant who stole a handgun, sold it, and the stolen/illegally sold gun was used in a fatal shooting in 1999. The family of the victim is suing .

See the current Boston Globe Article for detail.

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