Gun Control Group Stands Against Lawsuit Control

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - A gun control group that uses lawsuits in an effort to bankrupt the gun industry says it is opposed to tort reform legislation - legislation, it says, that would "shut the courthouse doors to victims of negligence and mistreatment."

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence United with the Million Mom March issued a statement on Tuesday, saying it stands with those citizens who oppose tort reform.

The effort to block the Class Action Fairness Act is being led by a consumer activist group called the Center for Justice & Democracy. The group says juries, not politicians, should decide how much a malpractice victim's injuries are worth.

President Bush, on the other hand, advocates a cap on pain-and-suffering damages in medical malpractice cases.

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on the Class Action Fairness Act this week, and its prospects for passage are said to be good.

Among other things, the bill would require large class-action suits to be filed in federal court rather than state courts. That would prevent trial lawyers from "venue shopping" - looking for states where jurors tend to make huge awards to plaintiffs.

As part of its effort to block the bill -- or more realistically, to amend it - the Center for Justice & Democracy has brought dozens of families to Washington this week to lobby against tort reform.

The Brady campaign said it supports the efforts of those citizen lobbyists - and stands with them "in their efforts to protect the fundamental legal rights of all Americans."

The Brady Campaign says Congress will soon consider a bill that would "deny" rights to "gun violence victims." The bill in question would shield the gun industry from lawsuits stemming from the misuse of their products by criminals and others.

But in the Brady Campaign's view, the bill would "shut the courthouse doors to victims of our country's most irresponsible gun sellers. That's extremism, and it is un-American," the Brady Campaign said.

The National Rifle Association says it is "reckless" to drive gun makers out of business because of how criminals choose to use guns. The NRA's Institute for Legislative Action (its lobbying arm) has compiled a list of taxpayer-funded "reckless lawsuits" against the firearms industry.