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Reckless Lawsuit Preemption (S. 1805) Debate Underway: Senators Agree To Set Final Vote Next Tuesday

Thursday, February 26, 2004

On Wednesday morning, the U.S. Senate began to debate S. 1805—the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" (formerly referenced as S. 659/S. 1806.) A bi-partisan 75-22 vote allowed debate to proceed, lifting the threat of a filibuster.

The debate continued late into the evening with no substantive movement on the bill and no additional votes were taken. Senators did, however, reach a "Unanimous Consent Agreement" spelling out specific amendments that would be permitted to be offered during the debate in anticipation of a final vote on the underlying measure next Tuesday.

On Thursday, the Senate reconvened and first considered was an amendment by anti-gun Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) that would require all handguns be sold with a mechanical safety device approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission(CPSC). This amendment was then replaced with a "second degree" amendment by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI). The Kohl amendment is much less restrictive and also provides liability protection for gun owners. The revised amendment passed 70-27.

The Senate next debated an amendment by Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) which would permit current and retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed firearms off duty in other states. Arguing hysterically against the amendment, anti-gun Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) revealed his deep distrust of gun carrying even by sworn police officers. A vote on the Campbell amendment was deferred until Tuesday.

Sen. Kennedy then introduced an amendment to ban the manufacture and sale of "armor-piercing" ammunition. Kennedy, who actually condemned the .30-30 Winchester cartridge during debate, wants to institute a "performance-based" standard that would grant any future Attorney General sweeping authority to ban any center-fire ammunition, including most common-place rifle hunting ammunition. The standard proposed by Sen. Kennedy was rejected in the 1980s as overly broad and unnecessary to meet any threat posed to law enforcement officers` safety. A vote on this NRA-opposed amendment will take place Tuesday.

The Senate next debated and voted upon two amendments seeking to gut S. 1805. The first related to the D.C. sniper case, but the proposal by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) was defeated, 56-40. A "law enforcement" exemption offered by Sen. John Corzine (D-NJ) was soundly defeated, 56 to 38.

NRA strongly opposed both amendments. One of the strengths of S. 1805 is that it adopts the same rules for all plaintiffs, no matter how sympathetic or unsympathetic, and no matter how notorious or mundane their victimization. Plaintiffs` rights should depend on settled principles of law, not on emotion or sympathy.

NRA-ILA stands totally committed to enacting S. 1805 without anti-gun amendments, and will continue to vigorously oppose any reauthorization of the 1994 Clinton gun ban and any attempt to ban gun shows.

Please continue to contact your U.S. Senators at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to support S. 1805 without any anti-gun amendments. Call ILA`s Grassroots staff at (800) 392-8683, or visit http://www.nraila.org/stoprecklesslawsuits.aspx for additional information and to utilize the "Write Your Representatives" feature to contact your U.S. Senators.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.