2003 Adopted Resolutions
71st Annual Meeting
Denver

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LIABILITY PROTECTIONS FOR GUN MANUFACTURERS AND DISTRIBUTORS

WHEREAS, Congress is considering legislation (HR 1036/S 659), the "Protection in Lawful Commerce in Arms Act", to shield those irresponsible elements of the firearms industry who create unreasonable threats to public safety from common law liability that state courts have applied to both the firearms industry and all other industries that market potentially hazardous instrumentalities; and

WHEREAS, evidence shows that there are a small proportion of "underworld" dealers where criminals go to buy guns. According to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), about 1 percent of dealers are responsible for about 58 percent of all guns used in crime. Undercover investigations performed throughout the country confirm that many of these dealers willingly sell firearms even when the purchasers make plain that they are gunrunners seeking firearms for drug dealers, criminal street gangs, or other unlawful purposes; and

WHEREAS, gun manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, except for Smith & Wesson, have refused to set any standards for responsible sales practices and they have continued to supply these "underworld" dealers; and

WHEREAS, litigation against underworld firearms dealers and their supplies is a particularly valuable method of reducing the supply of firearms to criminals because such litigation targets only those who are proven to have irresponsibly supplied firearms to criminals or to the underworld dealers that supply them; and

WHEREAS, the legislation would give "underworld" dealers and their suppliers legal protection from lawsuits by providing unprecedented special immunity to the firearms industry that is not provided to manufacturers or suppliers of other products; and

WHEREAS, the legislation would not only prospectively ban lawsuits against negligent actions by certain gun manufacturers, it would also invalidate the pending lawsuits of 40 municipalities and numerous victims of negligent gun manufacturers that are currently in the judicial process; and

WHEREAS, while advocates of this legislation claim that it is needed to free the firearms industry from "frivolous" litigation, the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Appellate Courts of Illinois and New Jersey, and trial courts in a variety of other jurisdictions have ruled that the lawsuits this legislation would preempt in fact have merit, and raise important questions about the actions of the particular firearms manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers that have been sued in those cases,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED the Conference of Mayors opposes, and urges Congress not to enact, HR 1036/S 659, the "Protection in Lawful Commerce in Arms Act."