Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The NRA's Greatest Hit... And 60 Democrats Voted For It


Like most bills signed by Bush, the gun manufacturers
protection act should be repealed

"A bill to prohibit civil liability actions from being brought or continued against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms or ammunition for damages, injunctive or other relief resulting from the misuse of their products by others." That's the description of the bill that the NRA got Congress to pass in 2005 on behalf of the gun manufacturers which sponsor the organization.

Cliff Stearns' 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (H.R. 800) doesn't have a roll call vote, but it did have 257 co-sponsors, 210 Republicans and 47 Democrats. The Senate passed a version of the bill (S. 397) by Idaho Republican Larry Craig before he was arrested in a public toilet trying to blow a young policeman. That's the one that the House voted on and approved and that was signed into law by Bush. But going back to the original Stearns bill, most of the Democrats who cosponsored it were subsequently defeated or forced to retire to avoid being defeated. Because he wanted to protect them, Steny Hoyer (with the connivance of Pelosi, Clyburn and Emanuel) later bottled up Carolyn McCarthy's Assault Weapons Ban (in 2007). But Democratic voters knew these guys were the mortal enemies of their families and they refused to vote for them, many of them in the Great Blue Dog Apocalypse of 2010:
Rick Boucher (D-VA)- defeated 2010
Allen Boyd (Blue Dog-FL)- defeated 2010
Jim Marshall (Blue Dog-GA)- defeated 2010
Joe Baca (Blue Dog-CA)- defeated in 2012
John Tanner (Blue Dog-TN)- forced to retire 2010
David Scott (Blue Dog/New Dem-GA)- survives
Mike Michaud (Blue Dog-ME)- survives
Rick Larsen (New Dem-WA)- survives
Tim Holden (Blue Dog-PA)- defeated 2012
Marion Berry (Blue Dog-AR)- forced to retire 2010
Lincoln Davis (Blue Dog-TN)- defeated 2010
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)- survives
Ted Strickland (OH)- defeated as Ohio governor 2010
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (Blue Dog-SD)- defeated 2010
Paul Kanjorski (PA)- defeated 2010
Gene Green (TX)- survives
Bart Gordon (Blue Dog-TN)- forced to retire 2010
Gene Taylor (Blue Dog-MS)- defeated 2010
Jim Cooper (Blue Dog/New Dem-TN)- survives
John Dingell (MI)- survives
Nick Rahall (WV)- survives
John Salazar (Blue Dog-CO)- defeated 2010
Mike Ross (Blue Dog-AR)- forced to retire 2012
Earl Pomeroy (Blue Dog/New Dem-ND)- defeated 2010
John Murtha (PA)- RIP
Bud Cramer (Blue Dog-AL)- retired 2008
Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT)- survives
Jerry Costello (IL)- retired 2012
John Barrow (Blue Dog/New Dem-GA)- survives
Charlie Melancon (Blue Dog-LA)- defeated for Senate 2010
Alan Mollohan (WV)- defeated 2010
Sanford Bishop (GA)- survives
Dan Boren (Blue Dog-OK)- forced to retire 2012
Dennis Cardoza (Blue Dog/New Dem-CA)- forced to retire 2012
Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)- survives
Ben Chandler (Blue Dog-KY)- defeated 2012
Tim Ryan (OH)- survives
Artur Davis (New Dem-AL)- defeated for governor 2010
Solomon Ortiz (TX)- defeated 2010
Chet Edwards (TX-D)- defeated 2010
Silvestre Reyes (TX)- defeated 2012
Leonard Boswell (Blue Dog-IA)- defeated 2012
Ike Skelton (MO)- defeated 2010
Ron Kind (New Dem-WI)- survives
Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog/New Dem-NC)- survives
Mike Thompson (Blue Dog-CA)- survives
Bart Stupak (MI)- forced to resign 2010
The Senate passed it July 29, 2005, 65-31, 15 Democrats crossing the aisle to show a little NRA love, 2 Republicans, Lincoln Chafee (RI) and Mike DeWine (OH), going in the other direction. Senate Democrats voting with the GOP: Baucus (MT), Byrd (WV), Conrad (ND), Dorgan (ND), Johnson (SD), Kohl (WI), Landrieu (LA), Lincoln (AR), Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Pryor (AR), Reid (NV), Rockefeller (WV), and Salazar (CO).

When the Senate version came to the House it passed 282-144, 60 Democrats voting for it, 140 Democrats and 4 Republicans (Ron Paul, Mark Kirk, Chris Shays and Mike Castle) voting against it. 60 Democrats! For the Gun Protection Act-- amazing. It dismissed all current claims against gun manufacturers in both federal and state courts and pre-empted future claims-- the NRA at the peak of its power.
It is outrageous that a product that exists for no purpose other than to kill has an exemption from state tort liability. Allowing tort liability would force gun manufacturers to pay some of the costs imposed by their products, increase the prices for assault weapons and maybe even cause some manufacturers to stop making them.

Thus, the law should go back to what it was a decade ago, when assault weapons were prohibited and civil liability for them existed. There is no Second Amendment problem with this. In 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court for the first time found that the Second Amendment protects a right of individuals to have handguns in their home for the sake of safety. The court was very clear that this is not an absolute right, and nothing in the court's opinion implies that there is a right to have all forms of weapons. It is unimaginable that the court will find a Second Amendment right for people to possess tactical nuclear weapons or chemical and biological arms or automatic and semi-automatic weapons.

Opponents of gun control argue that such bans don't work and that criminals will still get semi-automatic weapons. There certainly is evidence to dispute that and to support the view that the 1994 act did decrease the availability of assault weapons. But in other areas, like illegal drugs, the fact of criminal noncompliance is never accepted as a reason against regulation. Besides, that is no reason against having civil liability for gun manufacturers.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home