Here's an instructive but infuriating story. The story describes how Richard Dyke, the owner of Bushmaster Firearms Inc., hopes to protect himself from lawsuits: He invests in Republican members of Congress -- and if I'm reading this correctly, he invests in all of them:
Dyke is a GOP loyalist and writes $1,000 checks - the maximum amount - to all Republican congressional candidates for every primary and general election, whether they are opposed or not.
This story is in a Maine newspaper, and Bushmaster is a Maine company, so maybe Dyke's largesse is limited to every single GOP candidate from that state. Or maybe not.
Dyke is smart, needless to say. He knows that it helps him if even moderate Republicans are elected, Republicans who might not toe the gun lobby's line, because building the GOP majority, and thus the power of the current leadership, is sufficient to give the gun folks victory after victory.
Dyke is currently lobbying for a federal law that
would prohibit lawsuits against manufacturers, distributors, dealers or importers of firearms for damages that result from the use of their products by others.
This sounds reasonable until you realize that some gun dealers repeatedly violate firearms laws, with the result that their guns regularly get into the hands of criminals, and these dealers, as a rule, get no more than a slap on the wrist. And manufacturers know this and continue to sell to these dealers.
As I've pointed out many times, Bull's Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma, Washington, is a repeat violator of gun laws and has received nothing but wrist-slaps for it, as The Seattle Times reported last December. The gun used in the D.C. sniper killings came from Bull's Eye. That gun was made by Richard Dyke's company, Bushmaster.
Is Bushmaster partly liable for the fact that it sold guns to a shop with a documented history of gun-law violations? Richard Dyke doesn't want a jury to be able to decide.
And Maine's two "moderate Republican" senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, agree with Dyke. It's no surprise that Collins agrees:
After Collins lost the 1994 gubernatorial race to Angus King, Dyke played a big role in finding her next job. Dyke donated $265,000 to his alma mater, Husson College, to establish a center for small business, which hired Collins.
"I told Susan, 'They are looking for an executive director, and that might be a good fit for you until you decide to run again,' " Dyke said.
The arrangement was no secret, says Collins press secretary Megan Sowards. "It is called the 'Richard E. Dyke Center for Family Business,' and she was the inaugural director," Sowards said.
A year after Collins took the Husson job, U.S. Sen. William Cohen announced his retirement. Collins won the seat in 1996.
Snowe, for her part, says it's "a matter of fairness."
The people named here would beg to differ.