No Gun Dealer Bailout

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

WITH THE SNAP of its fingers, the National Rifle Association has caused Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) to halt debate on the critical Defense Department appropriations bill today so that the Senate can take up an NRA-sponsored bill immunizing gun dealers from civil lawsuits for the carnage wrought with their products. The NRA legislation that Mr. Frist and Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho) are hawking would create a unique and unwarranted exemption for gunmakers and dealers from the normal rules of liability. A more unfair and irrational special-interest shield from civil justice is difficult to imagine.

If the NRA and Mr. Frist had had their way, Bull's Eye Shooter Supply, the gun dealer that negligently allowed the Bushmaster rifle to reach the hands of Washington snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, would not have been successfully sued by families of six victims and the two victims who survived the ambushes. Instead, as part of a settlement, the dealer agreed to pay the families and victims $2.5 million. The GOP leader and the NRA want to shield gun purveyors from that kind of justice. The Senate should say no.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company