For Release: Wednesday, April 9, 2003
Bill Would Force Dismissal of Current NAACP Suit Against Gun Industry
WASHINGTON, DC -Today, in a lead-up to the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation (H.R.1036) that would give sweeping protection from civil liability to the firearms industry. The gun industry is already one of only two producers of consumer products exempt from federal health and safety regulation the tobacco industry is the other.
The bill would radically alter current state laws and shield gun manufacturers, dealers, and even gun industry trade associations from lawsuits brought by victims of criminal gun violence. The legislation would force the immediate dismissal of pending lawsuits against the gun industry, including one brought by the NAACP that is now being heard by a federal court in Brooklyn. In fact, the bill’s proponents made a last-minute change when the legislation was considered in the House Judiciary Committee to ensure dismissal of the NAACP suit.
House Passage of the bill – a top priority for the gun lobby – comes two weeks before the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting begins in Orlando, Florida, on April 24.
Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, states, “Gun manufacturers already exploit their exemption from federal health and safety regulation pumping out lethal assault weapons, 50 caliber sniper rifles, and ultra-concealable pocket rocket’ handguns. The gun industry innovates not for safety, but for lethality, designing and marketing guns with ever-increasing killing power. H.R. 1036 rewards them for such practices and will serve only to protect the gun industry from accountability when their products kill innocent victims, including children and law enforcement officers.”
A witness opposing the bill at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing last week was David Lemongello, a former New Jersey police officer who was shot and wounded in the line of duty. He has filed a lawsuit against the West Virginia gun dealer who sold the gun used in the shooting. The West Virginia judge presiding over the lawsuit recently denied a gun industry motion to dismiss the case. If the NRA-backed bill becomes law, Officer Lemongello’s case would be dismissed.