What: All Issues : Justice for All: Civil and Criminal : S. 1805. Gun Industry Liability/Vote to Maintain the Rights of Victims of Gun Violence to Seek Legal Remedies in Cases Involving Alleged Negligence on the Part of the Gun Industry. (2004 senate Roll Call 20)
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S. 1805. Gun Industry Liability/Vote to Maintain the Rights of Victims of Gun Violence to Seek Legal Remedies in Cases Involving Alleged Negligence on the Part of the Gun Industry.
senate Roll Call 20     Feb 26, 2004
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

In October 2002, snipers John Allen Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo murdered at least thirteen individuals in the Washington, D.C. area. During their twenty-three day rampage, the D.C. area was held hostage by the snipers; schools prevented students from going outside, outside athletic events were cancelled, and police advised citizens to stay in their homes. The two snipers were eventually caught and sentenced to death (Mohammed) and life in prison without the possibility of parole (Malvo). During debate on legislation to prohibit civil liability lawsuits from being brought or continued against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms or ammunition for damages resulting from negligence on the part of the gun industry, Senator Mikulski (D-MD) offered an amendment which would have created an exception in the underlying bill to allow future victims of gun violence to seek legal remedies in cases involving alleged negligence on the part of the gun industry. Progressives supported Mikulski's amendment because, in their view, victims of gun violence whose injuries or death were caused at least in part by alleged negligence on the part of the gun industry should have their day in court to let a jury of their peers decide whether or not the gun dealer or manufacturer should be held legally accountable. The Bushmaster sniper rifle used in the D.C. sniper murders, Progressives noted, came from Bull's Eye Shooter Supply, a gun dealership in Tacoma, Washington that has been unable to account for 237 guns which were once in their possession in the last three years. Progressives pointed out that while eighty percent of gun dealerships in the U.S. can account for over ninety-nine percent of their gun sales, some gun dealers operate under-the-table and knowingly or negligently sell guns to convicted criminals (a practice which, since passage of the Brady Bill, is illegal). Those renegade gun dealerships, Progressives argued, not be shielded by the underlying legislation from accountability. Conservatives opposed Mikulski's amendment and argued that the firearms industry should not be held legally liable for the criminal actions of others. Exceptions in the underlying legislation, Conservatives continued, already exist to allow lawsuits against the gun industry in cases alleging negligence. Mikulski's amendment was rejected on a 40-56 vote and the rights of victims of gun violence to seek damages in court for alleged negligence by the gun industry were not restored in the underlying legislation. (Note: The previous vote on the Craig amendment, Senate Vote 19, allowed sniper victims in the D.C. area to bring suit against the Bull's Eye Shooter Supply company; that amendment, however, was narrowly-tailored to apply only to sniper victims in the D.C. area.)

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