U.S. Senate Passes Firearms Liability Bill

August 12, 2005

The U.S. Senate recently passed liability legislation that would shield the firearms industry from liability claims resulting from injury due to criminal or unlawful use of firearms. The vote of 65-31 reflects the Senate’s opposition to “regulation through litigation,” according to the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA).

“Lawsuits targeting the firearms industry are just another attempt to regulate an entire industry through litigation,” said ATRA President Sherman Joyce. “We commend the Senate supporting this bill and saying ‘no’ to ‘regulation through litigation.’ The legislation, if enacted, will help ensure the firearms industry does not become regulated by a judge or jury, but by Congress, state legislatures or regulatory agencies who traditionally have been responsible for making those determinations.”

Over the past decade, a new phenomenon has reportedly arisen in the country’s civil justice system called “regulation through litigation” where the focus of traditional tort law shifts away from its main purpose – compensating someone who has been injured by the wrongful conduct of another – to having a judge create brand new rules to empower a jury to make determinations that can affect entire industries.

S. 397, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, prohibits civil liability actions from being brought against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms or ammunition for damages resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of their products by others. A similar bill is expected to pass in the U.S. House of Representatives. President Bush is expected to sign the bill.

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