[Lott] Protecting Gun Rights

I'm co-sponsoring a Senate bill that will protect America's firearms manufacturers and sellers from outrageous lawsuits holding them liable for crimes committed with guns. Like the tactics we're seeing employed with the homosexual marriage issue, the left is also pushing an unpopular anti-gun agenda through a few sympathetic courts, city councils and other cherry-picked venues, trying to bypass the American majority. Lawsuits by individuals and local governments against gun makers are just the liberals' latest move against gun ownership. Most law-abiding gun owners, including myself, see through it, and we're taking action to stop it.

This liability reform legislation (Senate Bill 1805, or S. 1805) doesn't negate any existing laws. It simply aims to protect those who are legally manufacturing and marketing firearms. Those who break existing laws are still subject to punishment, as they should be. However, firearms manufacturers who are following the law shouldn't have to worry about lawsuits against them just because they legally made or sold the instrument that someone else uses to break laws. If this logic were followed, automakers would face lawsuits when drunk drivers kill people with their cars. Cutlery makers could face legal action when someone stabs another with a kitchen knife.

The right to make, own and sell arms is part of our unique American cultural and legal fabric. Indeed, familiarity with firearms and the manufacture of them is what helped America win its independence from a well-trained and numerically superior foe. Since our Revolution, Americans have been world leaders in the design, use and the manufacture of firearms, beginning with the famed Kentucky Rifle. The firearms craft today employs thousands. It was one of America's first skilled industries, and today we remain the world's leader in the field. The founding fathers thought so highly of the firearm's value and this industry's relationship to American freedom and identity that they choose to preserve gun ownership in our vaunted Bill of Rights, which protects our most basic freedoms. S.1805 protects this long tradition and the families it supports, encouraging the enforcement of existing laws rather than the filing of junk lawsuits. It will join similar measures passed in most states as well as the U.S. House of Representatives in helping protect firearms manufacturers from liability nationwide.

Contrary to claims by anti-gun activists, S.1805 will have absolutely no effect on current law enforcement tools which exist to help police fight crime. Existing laws are already stringent and will remain so. For instance, applicants for federal firearms licenses are subject to background checks. Licensed dealers as well as manufacturers and importers have to keep records of all the guns that enter or leave their inventory. Licensees must report any stolen gun within 48 hours of discovering a theft. Licensed dealers have to conduct FBI background checks on all their retail sales. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has the right to inspect these records at any time without a warrant if the inquiry involves a criminal investigation or gun traced to a particular dealer. In fact, ATF regularly brings cases against those who illegally traffic guns.

As we're seeing on a variety of fronts, even basic American values and rights, as reflected in our laws and Constitution, don't seem to deter those wishing to enact a narrow, biased and unpopular liberal agenda. S. 1805 is designed to shoot down this latest veiled assault on law-abiding Americans who manufacture, sell and use firearms legally. S. 1805 puts the blame for crime right where it belongs - on the criminals who kill, rape, pillage and assault. It protects good, honest citizens who obey the law - as all laws and lawmakers should do. 2/27/04

Senator Lott welcomes any questions or comments about this column. Write to: U.S. Senator Trent Lott, 487 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 (Attn: Press Office)

Previous Comments

ID
69276
Comment

Read the NY Times editorial today for a different view: President Bush has long been on record supporting two crucial gun-control measures: the renewal of the assault weapons ban, which has been the law for 10 years, and a new law to close the loophole that shady dealers can use to slip weapons to buyers at gun shows. For an equally long time, he did nothing to back up his words. Now, in the early days of his re-election campaign, Mr. Bush has finally acted. He has stepped in at a critical hour in an attempt to kill both of those vital laws and promote instead a plan to grant unreasonable immunity from victims' damage suits to reckless gun dealers and manufacturers. As the immunity bill heads toward expected approval in the Senate, the White House has sided with the National Rifle Association, gun makers and gun dealers, putting out the word this week that it considers any attempt to amend the immunity bill "unacceptable." This effectively opposes the vital campaign by gun-control advocates to attach the assault weapons ban to the law as an amendment, along with the gun-show measure. Full Editorial

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-27T15:32:22-06:00
ID
69277
Comment

I really, really wish Senator Lott could make his arguments without bashing "liberals" all the time. Really. To compare gun control with gay marriage is just insane, and detracts from his argument. Which, in fact, I agree with. I think it's crazy to sue gun makers, because then we would have to sue car makers, baseball bat makers, cutlery makers, and so forth. But I am SOOOOO tired of him turning everything into a cultural battle of him and his supporters vs 'liberals.'

Author
kate
Date
2004-02-27T17:18:18-06:00
ID
69278
Comment

Oh, but Kate, didn't you know that "liberal"-bashing is a bona-fide sport in the country, and certainly in this state -- with the season open year-round. What those folks don't get, though, is that every time they do it, they (a) sound like dolts, (b) lose credibility for their arguments and (b) forfeit support they could get otherwise. You just made that point very well. I don't agree entirely about immunity for the gun industry, though. The fact is, the industry has flooded the market in many places where they well know that they are likely to be used in crimes. I'm not big on giving anyone immunity from lawsuits -- often lawsuits are simply the only way to get huge industries to self-regulate for the public good and safety. And the jury-court system, on the whole, is a good one -- even if the U.S. Chamber doesn't like to tell us about all the reduced verdict amounts and such in its quest to immunize industry.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-27T18:22:00-06:00
ID
69279
Comment

Er, Donna, when you're referring to people as 'dolts', you should make sure your list goes a, b, c, not a, b, b. You lose the intellectual high ground when that happens. Hee!

Author
kate
Date
2004-02-27T18:29:41-06:00
ID
69280
Comment

Good point, Kate. Non-dolts such as myself should know the alphabet. Actually, I edited in the "lose credibility" one; I started with two. And maybe I shouldn't call people "dolts," but it does frustrate me so that anyone who doesn't agree with the the far right is supposed to be some nutball "liberal" to be so easily dismissed or discredited. I believe there is a full spectrum of ideology (in fact, that it isn't so linear), and I can fully appreciate that some people are moderately conservative, or libertarian, or fiscally conservative, etc., without calling everyone who doesn't hug the far left a right-winger. (That would mean that I would call myself a "right-winger." Banish the thought.) Certainly, someone can debate the question of gun industry immunity without necessarily being a "liberal" as Lott defines. Those boxes are so simplistic! And they insult our intelligence. But y'all have heard me say all this before, so I'll shut up and pack. ;-) Or, maybe we all should give up the fight to keep conservatism reasonable like Barry Goldwater did, and just proudly proclaim ourselves "liberals" if we're anywhere to the left of John Ashcroft. It would probably be easier than trying to get some folks to think it through.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2004-02-27T18:46:27-06:00
ID
69281
Comment

my bumpersticker philosophying for the day: 'opposites are not contradictory, but complimentary' -neils bohr-

Author
dvc
Date
2004-03-01T21:51:01-06:00

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