A staunchly pro-gun-rights lawmaker has repeated his opposition to legislation that would protect firearms manufacturers from liability suits, despite a report that the National Rifle Association may pull its support for him in the next election.
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, voted to oppose H.R. 1036, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, because he said he feared it would be an unconstitutional enhancement of federal power. As WorldNetDaily reported, the bill passed the House earlier this month 285-140.
But because he voted against the bill, the NRA may drop its support of Paul in the future, according to Chicago Sun-Times syndicated columnist Robert Novak.
“Paul evoked the NRA’s ire April 9 by opposing a bill that would order federal and state courts to immediately dismiss lawsuits against gun makers and gun sellers,” Novak wrote. “Paul always has defended Second Amendment protection for gun owners. However, he objected to Congress legislating against state rights.”
Novak claimed gun-rights groups were split over Paul, who is also a physician. “While the NRA wants to challenge him, the Gun Owners of America are in full support,” he wrote.
An operator at NRA headquarters outside Washington, D.C., said all of the organization’s spokespersons were attending the group’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., and were unavailable for comment.
Jeff Deist, Paul’s spokesman, told WorldNetDaily he had no comment on Novak’s report. Instead, he referred to his boss’ statement opposing the bill on the House floor prior to the vote.
Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, confirmed that his group “fully supports” Paul.
“We disagree with his view that the bill was anti-federal by telling states not to allow frivolous lawsuits against the firearms industry,” Pratt told WorldNetDaily. “We believe that these suits themselves are the federalism buster. They permit a court in one state to set policy for the whole country.”
However, he said, “GOA fully supports Ron Paul who is the gun owners’ Top Gun in Congress.”
“Ron Paul has introduced bills to wipe out most federal gun-control laws. It is pretty hard to get more pro-gun than Ron Paul,” Pratt said, a position Paul made clear in his House statement.
“I rise today as a firm believer in the Second Amendment and an opponent of all federal gun laws,” Paul told lawmakers. “In fact, I have introduced legislation, the Second Amendment Restoration Act (H.R. 153), which repeals misguided federal gun-control laws such as the Brady Bill and the assault-weapons ban. I believe the Second Amendment is one of the foundations of our constitutional liberties.”
However, he continued, “another foundation of those liberties is the oath all of us took to respect constitutional limits on federal power. While I understand and sympathize with the goals of the proponents of the [Act], this bill exceeds those constitutional limitations, and so I must oppose it.”
Visitors to gun-rights website KeepAndBearArms.com voiced support for Paul.
“When it comes to choosing between Ron Paul and the NRA, I’ll pick Ron every time,” said one visitor who claimed to be from Paul’s district in Texas. “I’m glad to say he is my representative, and while I was initially surprised he voted ‘against,’ I understand the reason he did and I still support him.”
“If the NRA opposes Ron Paul in any election bid, I will immediately cancel my NRA membership and I will never join the NRA again … ever,” said another reader.
“The NRA opposes Ron Paul and they’ll regret that,” said another. “Ron Paul never compromises on Second Amendment issues.”
Not everyone agreed. “I am stunned by Ron Paul’s position on this one and will be talking to him about it as soon as I possibly can,” said one reader.
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre praised the House vote.
“Congress acted … to protect one of America’s oldest and most honorable industries,” he said. “Their action is a big step forward toward ending these careless lawsuits. These suits are a deliberate attempt aimed at manipulating our legal system to advance a failing political agenda.”
In his floor statement, Paul summed up his opposition to the bill on constitutional grounds.
“It is long past time for Congress to recognize that not every problem requires a federal solution,” he said. “I would remind my fellow supporters of gun rights that using unconstitutional federal powers to restrict state gun lawsuits makes it more likely those same powers will be used to restrict our gun rights.”