Yesterday, the Oklahoma House of Representatives voted 92-0 to approve House Bill 1004, authored by state Representative T.W. Shannon (R-62) and state Senators Brian Bingman (R-3) and Anthony Sykes (R-24). HB 1004 contains critical protections against attempts to bankrupt the American firearms industry through erroneous lawsuits that would threaten the availability of firearms to consumers. This legislation would provide that lawsuits may not be brought against manufacturers, distributors or sellers of firearms if such suits are based on criminal or unlawful use of the product by a third party. However, these protections would not apply to actions arising from the unlawful sale or transfer of firearms, or to instances in which the transfer or knew, or should have known, that the recipient would engage in the unlawful sale or transfer of the firearm, or would use, or purposely allow the use of, the firearm in an unlawful, negligent, or improper fashion.
Additionally, the state House voted 75 to 1 to add an emergency clause to HB 1004, enabling the legislation to take immediate effect if passed by the state Senate next week and signed into law by the Governor.
The language in HB 1004 was originally passed in 2009 as a section of House Bill 1603, which dealt broadly with tort reform and was law in Oklahoma until this June when the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down HB 1603 for violating the state constitutional requirement that a bill can have only one subject, not multiple. Governor Mary Fallin (R) called the state legislature into special session in order to restore the reforms in the original HB 1603 by introducing each subject as its own bill.