WASHINGTON -- April 12 -- On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee is expected to approve a bill that would grant gun sellers unprecedented immunity from legal action in Federal, state or local courts, despite fierce opposition from law enforcement leaders, legal scholars and gun violence victims across America.
Because the Committee is packed with gun lobby allies, passage of the bill is a formality. Not surprisingly, the measure is being pushed through committee right before House Majority Leader Tom DeLay travels to Houston this weekend to appear as Keynote Speaker at the National Rifle Association's annual convention. Delay, in the words of one leading national newspaper, has been "intensifying a crusade (in every sense of the word) for congressional control over the judicial branch of government." (Los Angeles Times, editorial 4-10-05.)
"The leaders of this Congress have a complete disdain for an independent judiciary in America, and they're simultaneously beholden to the extreme gun lobby," said Michael D. Barnes, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "We fully expect gun lobby allies in the House Judiciary Committee to rubber stamp the dream legislation of gun corporations just in time for Tom Delay to deliver the goods to the NRA."
Opposition to the measure from law enforcement continues to grow. Sixty-two police leaders and eight leading police organizations have signed onto a letter opposing the legislation. The letter says "H.R. 800 would strip away the legal rights of gun violence victims, including law enforcement officers and their families, to seek redress against irresponsible gun dealers and manufacturers."
To date, 78 law professors have signed a similar letter, saying passage of the legislation would "represent a dramatic narrowing of traditional tort principles. ... No other industry enjoys or has ever enjoyed such a blanket freedom from responsibility for the foreseeable and preventable consequences of negligent conduct." There have been more than 100 daily newspaper editorials opposing the legislation, including 14 in the past three weeks.
To see the letters, visit http://www.bradycampaign.org.
The House Judiciary Committee "markup" of H.R. 800 is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 13, in Room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.
As the nation's largest national, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence, the Brady Campaign, working with its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters and grassroots activists, is devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in their communities.