The issue of limits on lawsuits against gun manufacturers and sellers is once again in the news. Most of the news stories include a fair amount of “one side says, but the other side says” journalism; from that CNN.com article:
And from this article on Infozine.com:
This Washington Post editorial claims that the bill would have blocked a successful lawsuit against Bull’s Eye Shooter Supply for negligently selling a rifle to the Beltway snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo. This Philadelphia Inquirer editorial also says that the bill would “shield gun-makers and dealers from negligence lawsuits”. (Some of those links will probably require free registration.)
It seems as if one side or the other isn’t being truthful here, and the “one side says, but the other says says” style of journalism isn’t very helpful in sorting things out.
I believe this is the text of the bill currently under consideration. IANAL (lawyer or legislator), but if I’m following the wording of this bill correctly, lawsuits arising from violations of the law by gun dealers or negligence on the part of gun dealers in providing weapons to people who shouldn’t have them would specifically still be allowed (as would lawsuits against a gun manufacturer whose products blow up when you pull the trigger or something like that). However, I may be missing some arcane legal point about the meaning of “negligent entrustment” or the definitions contained in subparagraphs (A) or (B) of section 921(a)(3) of title 18, United States Code.
I’m actually interested in as factual an answer as possible, but I figure I’ll save myself the effort of inevitably moving this over from GQ. However, before this turns into a general debate on the right to bear arms, the meaning of the Second Amendment, the merits of gun control, or the wisdom of keeping guns for self-defense (or on federalism or tort reform, for that matter), I would like to hear some informed responses as to what this bill would actually do. If some of our resident lawyers could weigh in, I’d especially appreciate it.