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  • Congress passes Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, AP goes Bananas

       October 20, 2005

    Well, today Congress passed S.397 (the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act) and it's going to President Bush who has said he'd sign it.

    This despite a hysterical media campaign that promised all sorts of bad things would happen if this became law. But then, the MSM did the same thing at the sunset of the so-called Assault Weapons ban last year, and it turns out violent crimes in this country are at historic lows. But that aside, in case you didn't hear about the Act, this law would prevent frivolous lawsuits against the firearms industry for the purpose of driving them out of business. You know the type...suing Ruger because some kid went on a rampage with his dad's Vaquero...that sort of thing.

    Well, because I'm a fan of schadenfreude, I read Laurie Kellman's AP report with interest. And wow. If anyone needed a case study in hysterical liberal bias, this story is it.

    I'm not going to fisk the entire thing, but I do want to point out some interesting things that made its way into a "straight" news story.

    First, let's start with the header:

    Congress Gives Gun Lobby Its Top Legislative Priority, Passing Lawsuit Shield From Gunshot Victims
    That's kind of a misstatement, and a rather material one at that. What the bill does is prevent stupid lawsuits. For instance, one person shoots another. How is it the fault of the manufacturer of the firearm? Well, if the manufacturer was negligent in making the gun and that negligence resulted in someone getting shot, then you can make a case. It's also a case you can make under this new does nothing to deep six bona fide negligence cases. But you wouldn't know it from this summary, would you?

    Now, who do they go to for a quote early on in the story?

    "This legislation will make the unregulated gun industry the most pampered industry in America," said Kristen Rand, director of the Violence Policy Center.

    The characterization of the gun industry as "unregulated" is laughable on its face. Unregulated?!? You know, I can't think of an industry that is more regulated. How many industries do you know of that feature compulsory background checks on each and every purchase? The mandatory federal licensing and oversight of its dealers? Yet Rand's quote is printed without context or rebuttal in the story.

    Oh, the fun goes on. Check out this graf:

    The bill's passage was the NRA's top legislative priority and would give Bush and his Republican allies on Capitol Hill a rare victory at a time when some top GOP leaders are under indictment or investigation.
    Um, what? First, I don't know what they mean by "rare" victory. What recent losses has the Bush Administration and his Republican allies suffered, and in the quantity that would make this bill's passage equate with "rare?" Second, nice way to just oh-so-casually toss in "indictment or investigation," as if that had any bearing on this whatsoever. Oh, and in case you were wondering:
    Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, did not vote. He is in Texas in connection with his indictment in an alleged scheme to violate state election law.

    Gee Ms. Kellman...who else didn't vote and for what reason?

    Propelled by GOP election gains and the incidents of lawlessness associated with the passing of Hurricane Katrina, support for the bill has grown since a similar measure passed the House last year and was killed in the Senate.

    Of course, last year this bill had broad support until Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) & Co. brought up "poison-pill" amendments that were designed to kill such being a reauthorization of the "assault weapons" ban. At the end, Senator Larry Craig decided to kill the bill rather than chance anti-gun measures going to conference. So actually, it's not quite as the AP portrays it. The bill itself had strong support already.

    The next part is a study in faux-balance:

    The bill's authors say it still would allow civil suits against individual parties who have been found guilty of criminal wrongdoing by the courts.

    Opponents say the strength of the bill's support is testament to the influence of the gun lobby. If the bill had been law when the relatives of six victims of convicted Washington-area snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo sued the gun dealer from which they obtained their rifle, the dealer would not have agreed to pay the families and victims $2.5 million.

    "It is shameful that Republicans in Congress are pushing legislation that guarantees their gun-dealing cronies receive special treatment and are above the law," said Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Calif.

    One sentence from the authors of the bill. Much more from the opponents of the bill, and what they mention as fact is presented so hysterically it's hard to take it seriously. For instance, buying a rifle legally is just You have to make the case that the dealer was negligent under the law in selling that rifle (say, by failing to perform the background check required in this "unregulated" industry). If the dealer was negligent, you can bring suit under this new law. But no longer can you sue simply by virtue of the fact that a legal dealer sold a legal product to someone and met the laws in question, regardless of what that person eventually did with the product.

    And then Kellman has to get the most rabid Lefty in the House, Robert Wexler, for a comment. The legislation does not put anyone above the law...but it does prevent others from bringing frivolous suits that in any other industry would be laughed out of court. If anything, it keeps the anti-gun lobby from being "above the law" in that respect.

    And of course, buried at the end of the story (just so some guy on the Internet won't get his panties in a wad about it), there's actually some truth printed:

    Bush has said he supports the bill, which would prohibit lawsuits against the firearms industry for damages resulting from the unlawful use of a firearm or ammunition. Gun makers and dealers still would be subject to product liability, negligence or breach of contract suits, the bill's authors say.

    Of course, it's presented as a "the bill's authors say" as contrasted with the statement of fact earlier about the Washington "snipers," but still. Kellman probably looked at studies that show a tiny fraction of readers make it to the end of a story and figured it was safe to put this little caveat here.

    And lastly, a MSM specialty..guilt by inference:

    Democrats and Republicans alike court the NRA at election time, and the bill has garnered bipartisan support. But the firearms industry still gave 88 percent of its campaign contributions, or $1.2 million, to Republicans in the 2004 election cycle.

    Gun control advocates, meanwhile, gave 98 percent of their contributions, or $93,700, to Democrats that cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    Um, what place do donations have in this story, unless you're trying to imply that Congress was bought? And seriously, $1.2 million is enough to buy Congress? Puh-leeze.

    So the way I see it...anytime the AP gets this exorcised over something, enough so that they put in all sorts of snarky irrelevancies, it's gotta be a good thing.

    Posted by John Tant at October 20, 2005 02:57 PM

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    #  October 21st, 2005 12:20 PM      james
    i think that whenever i hear a buzzword like "cronies" in a statement like wexler's i immediately tune out the speaker's entire message. the left has been spouting buzzwords like "cronies," and "bush regime," and "our democracy" for so long that people have just come to accept the premise underlying each of them as truth. it's bewildering to me.  



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