Text of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act
The text of the bill below is as of Apr 10, 2003 (Referred to Senate Committee).
HR 1036 RFS
H. R. 1036
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
April 10, 2003
April 10, 2003
Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
To prohibit civil liability actions from being brought or continued against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms or ammunition for damages resulting from the misuse of their products by others.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ‘Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act’.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS; PURPOSES.
(a) FINDINGS- The Congress finds the following:
(1) Citizens have a right, protected by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, to keep and bear arms.
(2) Lawsuits have been commenced against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers of firearms that operate as designed and intended, which seek money damages and other relief for the harm caused by the misuse of firearms by third parties, including criminals.
(3) The manufacture, importation, possession, sale, and use of firearms and ammunition in the United States are heavily regulated by Federal, State, and local laws. Such Federal laws include the Gun Control Act of 1968, the National Firearms Act, and the Arms Export Control Act.
(4) Businesses in the United States that are engaged in interstate and foreign commerce through the lawful design, manufacture, marketing, distribution, importation, or sale to the public of firearms or ammunition that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce are not, and should not, be liable for the harm caused by those who criminally or unlawfully misuse firearm products or ammunition products that function as designed and intended.
(5) The possibility of imposing liability on an entire industry for harm that is solely caused by others is an abuse of the legal system, erodes public confidence in our Nation’s laws, threatens the diminution of a basic constitutional right and civil liberty, invites the disassembly and destabilization of other industries and economic sectors lawfully competing in the free enterprise system of the United States, and constitutes an unreasonable burden on interstate and foreign commerce of the United States.
(6) The liability actions commenced or contemplated by the Federal Government, States, municipalities, and private interest groups are based on theories without foundation in hundreds of years of the common law and jurisprudence of the United States and do not represent a bona fide expansion of the common law. The possible sustaining of these actions by a maverick judicial officer or petit jury would expand civil liability in a manner never contemplated by the Framers of the Constitution, by the Congress, or by the legislatures of the several states. Such an expansion of liability would constitute a deprivation of the rights, privileges, and immunities guaranteed to a citizen of the United States under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
(b) PURPOSES- The purposes of this Act are as follows:
(1) To prohibit causes of action against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers of firearms or ammunition products for the harm caused by the criminal or unlawful misuse of firearm products or ammunition products by others when the product functioned as designed and intended.
(2) To preserve a citizen’s access to a supply of firearms and ammunition for all lawful purposes, including hunting, self-defense, collecting, and competitive or recreational shooting.
(3) To guarantee a citizen’s rights, privileges, and immunities, as applied to the States, under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, pursuant to section 5 of that Amendment.
(4) To prevent the use of such lawsuits to impose unreasonable burdens on interstate and foreign commerce.
(5) To protect the right, under the First Amendment to the Constitution, of manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers of firearms or ammunition products, and trade associations, to speak freely, to assemble peaceably, and to petition the Government for a redress of their grievances.
SEC. 3. PROHIBITION ON BRINGING OF QUALIFIED CIVIL LIABILITY ACTIONS IN FEDERAL OR STATE COURT.
(a) IN GENERAL- A qualified civil liability action may not be brought in any Federal or State court.
(b) DISMISSAL OF PENDING ACTIONS- A qualified civil liability action that is pending on the date of the enactment of this Act shall be dismissed immediately by the court in which the action was brought or is currently pending.
SEC. 4. DEFINITIONS.
In this Act:
(1) ENGAGED IN THE BUSINESS- The term ‘engaged in the business’ has the meaning given that term in section 921(a)(21) of title 18, United States Code, and, as applied to a seller of ammunition, means a person who devotes, time, attention, and labor to the sale of ammunition as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the sale or distribution of ammunition.
(2) MANUFACTURER- The term ‘manufacturer’ means, with respect to a qualified product, a person who is engaged in the business of manufacturing the product in interstate or foreign commerce and who is licensed to engage in business as such a manufacturer under chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code.
(3) PERSON- The term ‘person’ means any individual, corporation, company, association, firm, partnership, society, joint stock company, or any other entity, including any governmental entity.
(4) QUALIFIED PRODUCT- The term ‘qualified product’ means a firearm (as defined in subparagraph (A) or (B) of section 921(a)(3) of title 18, United States Code, including any antique firearm (as defined in section 921(a)(16) of such title)), or ammunition (as defined in section 921(a)(17) of such title), or a component part of a firearm or ammunition, that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.
(5) QUALIFIED CIVIL LIABILITY ACTION-
(A) IN GENERAL- The term ‘qualified civil liability action’ means a civil action brought by any person against a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product, or a trade association, for damages or injunctive relief resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a qualified product by the person or a third party, but shall not include--
(i) an action brought against a transferor convicted under section 924(h) of title 18, United States Code, or a comparable or identical State felony law, by a party directly harmed by the conduct of which the transferee is so convicted;
(ii) an action brought against a seller for negligent entrustment or negligence per se;
(iii) an action in which a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product knowingly and willfully violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the product, and the violation was a proximate cause of the harm for which relief is sought;
(iv) an action for breach of contract or warranty in connection with the purchase of the product; or
(v) an action for physical injuries or property damage resulting directly from a defect in design or manufacture of the product, when used as intended.
(B) NEGLIGENT ENTRUSTMENT- In subparagraph (A)(ii), the term ‘negligent entrustment’ means the supplying of a qualified product by a seller for use by another person when the seller knows or should know the person to whom the product is supplied is likely to use the product, and in fact does use the product, in a manner involving unreasonable risk of physical injury to the person and others.
(6) SELLER- The term ‘seller’ means, with respect to a qualified product--
(A) an importer (as defined in section 921(a)(9) of title 18, United States Code) who is engaged in the business as such an importer in interstate or foreign commerce and who is licensed to engage in business as such an importer under chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code;
(B) a dealer (as defined in section 921(a)(11) of title 18, United States Code) who is engaged in the business as such a dealer in interstate or foreign commerce and who is licensed to engage in business as such a dealer under chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code; or
(C) a person engaged in the business of selling ammunition (as defined in section 921(a)(17) of title 18, United States Code) in interstate or foreign commerce at the wholesale or retail level, consistent with Federal, State, and local law.
(7) STATE- The term ‘State’ includes each of the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and any other territory or possession of the United States, and any political subdivision of any such place.
(8) TRADE ASSOCIATION- The term ‘trade association’ means any association or business organization (whether or not incorporated under Federal or State law) that is not operated for profit, and 2or more members of which are manufacturers or sellers of a qualified product.
Passed the House of Representatives April 9, 2003.