Thursday, February 28, 2013

Morse proposes assault-weapon liability legislation

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 3:10 PM

Fresh off their victory in moving forward a package of gun bills in the House, Democratic leadership has introduced the Assault Weapon Responsibility Act.

Sen. John Morse
  • Sen. John Morse

The lead sponsor on Senate Bill 13-196 is Senate President John Morse, the Colorado Springs Democrat. The Denver Post first reported on the likely introduction of this bill earlier this month, interviewing horrified Republicans and an incredulous Democrat.

Senate President John Morse, a Colorado Springs Democrat, announced he was working on a bill that would hold manufacturers and sellers of assault-style weapons legally liable for damage inflicted with such firearms.

Even some Democrats shook their heads.

"That's crazy. That's absolutely nuts," said Rep. Ed Vigil, D-Fort Garland.

...

Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, a Colorado Springs Republican, predicted the liability bill will help his party pick up "three-plus" Senate seats in the next election.

"He's out of his mind," was Morse's response.

"The country is clamoring for solutions and new ideas. Politically, this is more helpful than it is hurtful. We need to figure out how to make sure we don't have 6-year-olds being killed by military-style assault weapons."

Below is the Bill Summary:

The bill concerns liability for the discharge of an assault weapon.

It defines an assault weapon as any firearm except:
• Handguns;
• Shotguns; and
• Bolt-action rifles.

The bill establishes strict liability against a person who discharges an assault weapon for damages caused by the discharge. It creates an exception for damages occurring within a dwelling if the assault weapon was used to defend the person or others from another person who was about to use physical force against the person or another person within the dwelling. The bill establishes certain exceptions to liability for an owner of an assault weapon.

The bill establishes liability for a person who owns, obtains, or possesses an assault weapon for damages caused by the discharge of the assault weapon by a third person if the person was negligent in storing the assault weapon or allowing a third party to come into possession of the assault weapon.

The bill establishes liability for a seller and transferor of an assault weapon for damages caused by the discharge of the assault weapon by a third party if the person:
• Negligently entrusted the assault weapon to a third party whom the person knew or reasonably should have known might use the weapon to cause bodily injury to the third party or others; or
• Sold or transferred the assault weapon in violation of any state or federal law.

The bill establishes liability for a seller, distributor, or manufacturer of an assault weapon for damages caused by the discharge of the assault weapon by a third party if the person sold or transferred the assault weapon in violation of any state or federal law.

The bill requires sellers, distributors, and manufacturers to:
• Use the highest degree of care in selling, transferring, distributing, and storing assault weapons; and
• To receive information to have reasonable grounds to believe that the weapon will not be possessed by a person who may use it dangerously or unlawfully.

The bill specifies that failure to do so constitutes a violation of state law.

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