What: All Issues : Government Checks on Corporate Power : Firearms Industry : S. 1805. Gun Industry Liability/Vote to Allow Lawsuits Alleging Criminal Negligence by Gun Dealers in Cases Involving the Victims of the D.C. Snipers.
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S. 1805. Gun Industry Liability/Vote to Allow Lawsuits Alleging Criminal Negligence by Gun Dealers in Cases Involving the Victims of the D.C. Snipers.
senate Roll Call 19     Feb 26, 2004
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:

In October 2002, snipers John Allen Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo murdered 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, 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 Craig (R-ID), a National Rifle Association (NRA) board member, drafted an amendment which was introduced by Majority Leader Frist (R-TN) which would have made a specific exception in the underlying bill to allow the families of the victims of the convicted snipers to bring suit against Bull's Eye Shooter Supply, the gun dealership in Tacoma, Washington which allegedly lost the Bushmaster sniper rifle which was used by Mohammed and Malvo in the murders. Evidence also indicates that the same gun dealership could not account for 237 other guns which were in their possession in the last three years. Progressives viewed Craig's amendment and too restrictive and pointed out that past and future lawsuits against gun dealers that, through negligence, either sell firearms to criminals or lose guns in their possession would be shielded by the underlying bill from legal accountability. In the view of Progressives, victims of gun violence whose injuries or death were caused at least in part by 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 liable for alleged negligence. Conservatives supported Craig's amendment but argued that, in general, the firearms industry should not be held responsible 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; Craig's amendment, in their view, was therefore unnecessary (but they voted for it nevertheless). On a vote of 59-37, the Craig amendment was adopted and an exemption was made in this particular case to allow the sniper victims to bring suit against the Bull's Eye Shooter Supply company.

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