Protecting Gun Dealers

In yet another brilliant move by the Bush policy team working in close conjunction with Congressional Republicans and at the behest of the NRA, the GOP leadership is pushing a bill that would protect gun dealers by giving them a priori immunity from any potential lawsuits that might arise because they got sloppy about who they sold a WPD (weapon of personal destruction) to. What a good idea. They’ve just alienated, practically in toto, one of their largest constuencies–cops.

The police officials’ campaign began last week when Chief William J. Bratton of the Los Angeles Police Department held a news conference there denouncing the bill. Chief Bratton and 80 other police officials then signed a letter to the Senate expressing their opposition. At the same time, a full-page advertisement featuring a photograph of Chief Bratton and paid for by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence appeared in The Washington Post.The advertisement is expected to appear soon in other major newspapers and on television, and Chief Bratton, the former New York City police commissioner, said he would go to Washington to lobby senators.

The campaign is supported by the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which represents the chiefs of police in the 50 largest cities.

“To give gun manufacturers and dealers immunity from lawsuits is crazy,” Chief Bratton said in a telephone interview.

“If you give them immunity,” he added, “what incentive do they have to make guns with safer designs, or what incentive do the handful of bad dealers have to follow the law when they sell guns?”

Good questrions, don’t you think? The article doesn’t mention them (as it doesn’t mention that the majority of votes for it are Republican or that it’s being pushed by the Republican “leadership”) but the Police Unions aren’t too thrilled about this bill, either. To them what it means is more dead cops, and they’re against that. Go figure.

The NRA says Bratton’s over-reacting. Lloyd Cutler says he isn’t.

One lawsuit that could be jeopardized by the immunity bill has been brought by the families of eight of the people killed in the Washington-area sniper shootings. That suit, filed against Bull’s Eye Shooter Supply, the gun shop in Tacoma, Wash., where the snipers’ Bushmaster XM-15 rifle originated, and against the manufacturer, is scheduled for trial this fall.According to an opinion written by Lloyd N. Cutler, a Washington lawyer who was just named by President Bush to the panel that will investigate intelligence failures before the war in Iraq, “The bill, if enacted, would require dismissal.”


Mr. Cutler said the bill would lead to dismissal of the suit because neither Bull’s Eye nor Bushmaster violated a federal or state law in connection with the rifle, as would be required by the immunity bill. Although Bull’s Eye was found by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to have lost 238 guns from its inventory, with no record of them being sold, the only evidence about how the snipers got the rifle was a statement by one, Lee Malvo, that he shoplifted the gun. (emphasis added)

This would be criminal negligence in any other industry, but the NRA–the most powerful special interest in Washington–wants these perps protected, so their Publican Puppets are dutifully on the case.

Feel safer now, do you? No, me neither.

The good news is that the Bush team has just alienated yet another section of its core constituency. So how much of it do they have left, you think? 50%? 30? If they keep pissing their own people off at this rate, by November the only conservatives left to vote for them will be…them.

Go team.

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