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Senate Sinks Lawsuit Bill

Friday, March 5, 2004

Attempts To Reenact Gun Ban And End Gun Shows Go Down With Ship

Now that the dust has settled over S. 1805, the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act," it is time for us to take stock of where we stand in ultimately passing a "clean" lawsuit bill, regroup, and pursue the most effective legislative and grassroots strategies to accomplish this goal.

While we have noted that, in its original form, S. 1805 had the support of a majority of U.S. Senators and the Administration, it is also important to acknowledge other groups who supported the lawsuit bill. These include: organized labor (including United Mine Workers, United Steel Workers, United Auto Workers, and International Association of Machinists union members), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors.

As amended, S. 1805 was no longer the same bill that was originally introduced and supported by this broad-based coalition. Despite our best efforts, legislation that simply sought to halt the abuse of our court system by holding the lawful firearm industry liable for the acts of criminals, was weighed down with anti-gun amendments, thus making it unacceptable. Plain and simple, the anti-gunners in the U.S. Senate played politics with this critical bill.

Commenting on the failure of the Senate to pass a "clean" lawsuit bill, NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox noted, "Despite the fact that the U.S. House of Representatives passed a ‘clean` lawsuit bill last year on an overwhelming bipartisan vote, Senate opponents of S. 1805 decided that playing election year gun control politics was more important than passing a bill that had the support of a majority of U.S. Senators and the Administration. While NRA is disappointed by the actions of those Senators who used political gimmickry to kill a bill that had such broad-based support, we were not willing to allow the lawsuit bill to be used as a vehicle to foist more gun control on the American people. U.S. Senators have now made their positions on these crucial issues known, and rest assured we will inform our four million members and the nation`s 65 million gun owners of their actions, so they may take these votes into consideration on Election Day."

The vote on the Feinstein Amendment to reenact the 1994 Clinton gun ban was 52-47. And while it garnered four fewer votes than it did in 1993, this ban does not deserve to be extended for even one second longer than its scheduled demise on September 13!

NRA led the fight in opposition to the ill-conceived Clinton gun ban in 1994. We led the successful House effort to repeal the ban two years later, and we are leading the fight to ensure the Clinton gun ban deservedly expires on September 13. From public speeches, articles in NRA publications, ads in national newspapers, communications to lawmakers, the development of a website (www.ClintonGunBan.com), and meetings with our members, NRA has been vocal and unambiguous about our position on this issue. The same can be said about the McCain-Reed Amendment that was attached to S. 1805, which would have ended gun shows as we know them.

Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) did an outstanding job representing gun owners throughout the entire debate, and is to be applauded for his efforts in laying out the case against the Clinton gun ban, and for the importance of passing a lawsuit bill free of anti-gun amendments.

Rest assured our opponents will continue to work at every turn to try and accomplish their anti-gun goals. It is therefore critical that you continue to contact your lawmakers in opposition to reenacting or expanding the Clinton gun ban, as well as restricting gun shows.

This whole process highlights some of the pitfalls currently involved with passing proactive firearm legislation. But it is a battle worth fighting! Allowing these reckless lawsuits to continue unabated will be disastrous for the American firearm industry, and for your right to lawfully own firearms. We owe it to ourselves, and all gun owners across the Country, to continue this fight until we pass a "clean" lawsuit bill; whether it is this year, or next year, after the 2004 elections. When we succeed in ultimately enacting a "clean" lawsuit bill into law, it will represent a monumental step forward for our rights. Rest assured we will keep you informed of our efforts.

In the meantime, please visit www.NRAILA.org to find out how your U.S. Senators voted on the Feinstein and McCain-Reed Amendments, and contact them accordingly to make your views known. ILA`s Grassroots staff is ready to assist you, so please call them at (800) 392-8683. Or visit ILA`s website at www.NRAILA.org for additional information on these issues and to utilize ILA"s "Write Your Representatives" feature that will allow you to identify and contact your U.S. Senators.

Thank you again for your continued activism on this issue and for your work in the future to enact this critically-needed reform!

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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.