For Release: Tuesday, February 15, 2000
The Violence Policy Center (VPC) today denounced H.R. 2366, the “Small Business Liability Reform Act,” legislation that would protect many gun manufacturers and virtually all gun dealers. In support of its charges, the VPC released its new study, Deadly Exceptions: Gun Manufacturers That Would be Protected by the “Small Business” Cap on Punitive Damages, at a Capitol Hill press conference held at 9:45 AM in Rayburn HOB Room 2226. Scheduled to join the Violence Policy Center’s Director of Federal Policy Kristen Rand are Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Diana DeGette (D-CO).
H.R. 2366 would severely limit consumer rights in product liability suits by shielding “small businesses” from punitive damages by capping the amount that could be awarded against companies employing fewer than 25 employees.
As detailed in the VPC’s new report among the manufacturers protected under the bill would be “small businesses” that produce assault weapons, Saturday Night Special handguns, and even 50 caliber sniper rifles. Many of these manufacturers have experienced safety-related problems with their products or have been defendants in product liability lawsuits.
According to the VPC’s Rand, “This misguided legislation would protect the manufacturers of the assault weapons used in the April 20, 1999 Columbine massacre in Littleton, CO: the TEC-DC9 assault pistol and the Hi-Point Carbine. Instead of protecting communities from gun violence, Congress is working to protect gun manufacturers’ bottom line.”
The legislation would protect gun companies from product liability lawsuits where a firearm contains a safety-related defect, as well as from suits like those filed by cities and counties alleging that the gun industry has engaged in negligent distribution and marketing practices.
Representative Lofgren will offer an amendment to the “Small Business Liability Reform Act” that allows future lawsuits by municipalities against gun manufacturers.