The Gun Industry Rolls Congress

Submitted by PAAMember on October 18, 2005 - 11:00pm. ::

The Gun Industry Rolls Congress
Published: October 18, 2005

Three years ago, the nation's capital region lived in fear of a pair of
snipers who killed 10 people and wounded three in random attacks with a
Bushmaster XM-15 .223-caliber telescopic rifle - a gleaming civilian version of
the Army's basic M-16 assault rifle popular with recreational shooters. In the
aftermath, the rifle was traced to a shoddy gun dealer who claimed he somehow
"lost" that war weapon and some 200 other guns to the underground market.
Victimized families sued in grief and outrage and won $2.5 million in a
settlement that most Americans - except Congress - would pronounce proper.

The House of Representatives, in callow disregard of cause and effect in the
nation's harrowing gun carnage, is about to take aim at the Bushmaster
settlement by voting what is expected to be final approval of a bill to grant
assault-proof protection from damage suits to the gun industry, from
manufacturers to dealers. This extraordinary shield, written to the diktat of
the National Rifle Association, is so sweeping that it would have barred the
D.C. sniper settlement and other valid negligence claims, according to legal
experts stunned that any industry could ever win such blanket immunity.

With all the critical issues on the national agenda, from the Iraq war to
hurricane recovery, the House's eagerness is obscene as the gun lobby herds
lawmakers from both parties behind a bill to deny victimized families their fair
day in court. The bill goes beyond barring lawsuits to shielding black-market
dealers from administrative loss of their licenses without near impossible
burdens of proof.

President Bush talked favorably about the assault weapons ban as a candidate
but was notoriously mute when the Republican Congress let the ban expire last
year. Surely he would not compound the nation's gun scourge by signing the
immunity bill.

Make levees, not war!