Byline: Brian DeBose, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The House Judiciary Committee yesterday approved a bill that would shield gun manufacturers, distributors and importers from lawsuits seeking damages for the misuse of their products.
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act now will move to the House floor, where it is expected to pass.
Lawmakers from rural districts said the time has come for Congress to protect the firearms industry from lawsuits that could put it out of business.
"This measure provides protection only against suits based on the criminal or unlawful acts of third parties - not against their own negligent or criminal conduct," said Rep. Cliff Stearns, Florida Republican and one of the bill's sponsors. "Under this measure, manufacturers or sellers must operate entirely within federal and state law and are still liable for acts of negligence and for defective products."
Opponents of the bill have argued that distributors and dealers who knowingly sell guns to criminals or fail to report suspicious purchasing activity would be shielded. They say repeated purchases of handguns is a clear indication that the firearms are not for personal use.
Rep. Rick Boucher of Virginia, one of 46 Democrats supporting the bill, said there is no reason to allow the lawsuits to continue.
"The effort of cities to sue gun manufacturers because someone misuses a firearm is nothing but an attempt to impose gun control by judicial means," Mr. …