I am a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, with which I have been associated since 1985, and am the author of three books on the American civil justice system. My most recent book, The Rule of Lawyers (St. Martin’s, 2003), published in January, includes a chapter exploring the origins and objectives of the movement seeking to make makers and distributors of guns pay for criminals’ misuse of their wares. I conclude that the gun suits are at best an assault on sound tenets of individual responsibility, and at worst a serious abuse of legal process. Even more ominously, the suits demonstrate how a pressure group can employ litigation to attempt an end run around democracy, in search of victories in court that it has been unable to obtain at the ballot box. Finally, I argue that strong Congressional action to restrict litigation of this type is not only consistent with a due regard for federalism and state autonomy, but is in fact required by it.
Walter K. Olson
April 2, 2003
PROTECTION OF LAWFUL COMMERCE IN ARMS ACT HEARING
BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON COMMERCIAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE LAW OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
[Reading the transcript was interesting. At that time, prior to the Heller Decision in 2008, SCOTUS had not definitively stated the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right. This was an issue in the hearings:
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you. In the finding, Mr. Keane, on the finding number one, citizens have a right protected by the second amendment to the United States Constitution to keep and bear arms, I notice it says ”citizens” and not ”a citizen.” there is no individual right in the Constitution to bear arms, is there?
Those were dark days.—Joe]