For Release: Wednesday, January 26, 2000
Amendment to Bankruptcy Reform Measure Would Prevent Gun Manufacturers from “Taking Advantage of the System”
The Senate is set to consider an amendment by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) to ensure that gun manufacturers cannot escape responsibility for debts incurred as a result of lawsuits filed by consumers or municipalities. Sen. Levin’s amendment will be considered during debate on S. 625, a bill to overhaul the nation’s bankruptcy laws. This will be the first major debate in the Senate over gun control since Vice President Gore cast the tie-breaking vote to require background checks at gun shows following the massacre at Columbine High School in April 1999. The Senate is scheduled to begin debate on a series of amendments to S. 625 on Wednesday, January 26.
“Senator Levin’s amendment would ensure that gun manufacturers cannot evade accountability for firearm-related death and injury,” said Kristen Rand, director of federal policy for the Violence Policy Center. At least three major gun manufacturers have sought bankruptcy protection 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 gun industry is already exempt from health and safety regulation. A gun maker should be held fully accountable when a jury determines that it acted negligently or recklessly,” added Rand.