Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced a Senate bill on March 22 that would ban lawsuits against gunmakers whose firearms are used in crimes.
Hatch said the Administration has joined the lawsuits merely to "extort" concessions from gunmakers, such as the deal between Smith & Wesson and some government agencies and cities.
"Lets call it what the federal lawsuit really is: extortion. It is an attempt to bypass the legislative process and the Constitution to achieve a gun control agenda that the publics elected officials oppose," Hatch said.
He added such suits make "it seem that the Administration is doing something" about gun violence. But "the record makes it clear the Administration has done little to enforce the federal laws on the books against gun-wielding criminals."
Hatch said the suit simply "masks the truth. The Administration has been inept in preventing gun violence" and is making noise on the issue only for political purposes. The bill is just the latest round in fierce battles over gun control that hit a higher gear after a 6-year-old in Michigan shot and killed a first-grade classmate at the end of February.
Hatch has charged that Clinton is using the outcry over the incident to push unfair gun control, and has resisted urging from Clinton to reconvene a House-Senate conference to work out differences in a Juvenile Justice bill amended to include many gun provisions.
When Hatch said he was thinking of stripping all gun provisions out of that bill and running them separatelyso they wouldnt delay anti-gang and other issues in the billClinton vowed to veto the legislation.
So Hatch told the Senate he has essentially decided that the best political defense for gun advocates is a good offenseand his new bill is the first piece of that.
"I have become convinced that . . . it is not enough to simply oppose the gun control communitys legislative agenda," Hatch said, according the Salt Lake City Desert News.
Instead, he called for allies to "redouble our efforts and set out to pass an affirmative legislative agenda, which safeguards the right to keep and bear arms."
Hatch called his new bill the "Right to Keep and Bear Arms Protection and Privacy Act." Besides banning lawsuits against gunmakers whose products are misused in crimes, it also bans any fee for background checks on gun purchasers, and requires forms they file to be destroyed once the check is complete.
Hatch bitterly criticized the Administrations recent deal with Smith & Wesson. He said the company was forced into a settlement because its British owners currently trying to sell it could not find buyers with the lawsuits against it pending. Hatch also claimed that the idea of S&W being given preference in city and government buying "undercuts the principle of competitive bidding," and creates an incentive that taxpayers will be gouged.
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