The U.S. Senate on Thursday shot down a
bill aimed at granting protection to firearms makers and
distributors from lawsuits over gun crimes. The Senate Republicans
killed their own bill because they believed that it had been
compromised by amendments, namely the passage of a measure to renew
the 10-year-old ban on assault weapons. This proposed bill was an
attempt at appeasing fears of a tobacco industry-like explosion of
lawsuits against gun makers. While gun makers cannot always be held
responsible for destructive uses of their products, this bill would
have stripped citizens of their legal right to file suit against
them. This would undermine the system of checks and balances that
our government is based upon and would deny citizens a valuable
tool in gaining recourse. If this bill is to come up for debate
once again, senators should ensure that it is defeated, either in
committee or on the floor.

In a vote to open debate on the issue, 75 senators originally
backed the bill. Republican supporters of the bill warned that any
attempt to make changes to the bill would become an attempt to kill
it, as they would not pass it with any amendments. The Democrats
were then able to put two amendments into the bill, effectively
killing it. The first amendment was the move to renew the 10-year
ban on assault weapons, and the second would have stopped
unlicensed sellers from selling firearms at gun shows without
having to perform background checks.

The proponents of this bill was certainly influenced by the
barrage of lawsuits brought against tobacco companies in the past
six years, including one filed by the federal government to recover
Medicare costs. Many anti-gun lawsuits have started to target the
industry and in response gun manufacturers turned their
considerable lobbying power to Congress to bring about immunity
legislation. However, the connection between tobacco and guns is
not entirely as clear cut as it may seem. Both cigarettes and guns
kill people, but tobacco companies manufacture a product that is
unhealthy even when used properly. Guns, on the other hand, are not
essentially antithetical to a safe society.

The problem with the gun immunity bill did not lay in its aims,
but in its overarching effect on the justice system as a whole. The
option to file lawsuits against any wrongdoing that may have been
committed is a vital right of the American people. In this case,
the rights of people outweigh the rights of gun companies. There
are already plenty of protections to shield corporations from the
threat of frivolous lawsuits. One would be hard-pressed to call
this a tough time for corporations who are far more capable of
affording lawyers.

The battle over gun control will become increasingly heated as
this year’s election approaches. Senate Republicans will
undoubtedly propose this bill again, well aware that in November
the gun industry will prove to be a critical ally. When they do,
all senators should recognize the importance of trumpeting the
people’s rights by assuring the defeat of this type of

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