For Release: Thursday, November 18, 1999
Republicans Stymie Democrats’ Efforts to Offer Amendment to Prevent Gun Manufacturers from “Taking Advantage of the System”
Senate Republicans chose today to kill major federal legislation related to bankruptcy protection laws rather than allow Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) the chance to offer an amendment to ensure that gun manufacturers cannot discharge debts incurred as a result of lawsuits filed by consumers or municipalities.
“The Republican-controlled Senate is simply afraid to allow a debate regarding the unscrupulous tactics being used by gun manufacturers to evade accountability for firearm-related death and injury,” charged Kristen Rand, director of federal policy for the Violence Policy Center. At least three major gun manufacturers have sought bankruptcy protection specifically to avoid liability claims.
For example, Lorcin Engineering arrogantly stated in 1996 that it was filing for bankruptcy to protect the company from at least 18 pending liability suits. Lorcin officials stated to Firearms Business – a gun industry trade publication – that the company chose to “take advantage of the system” when it filed for bankruptcy.
Davis Industries, also motivated by pending product liability claims as well as lawsuits filed by U.S. cities including Chicago, New Orleans, Miami, Atlanta, Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Detroit filed for bankruptcy protection in May 1999. Sundance Industries sought bankruptcy protection in August 1999. As a result, the Superior Court of California enjoined the City of Los Angeles from pursuing Sundance in the city’s lawsuit against gun manufacturers.
“The fate of the Levin amendment graphically demonstrates the clout the gun lobby wields over the Republican Party,” said Rand. “This outcome is not surprising when one considers that according to an analysis by Common Cause, Republicans filled the top 10 slots for recipients of both NRA PAC contributions and independent expenditures to Senate candidates over the last 10 years.”