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S. 397 Passes U.S. Senate!!!

Friday, July 29, 2005

Thanks to your efforts, today, the U.S. Senate passed S. 397 by a strong bipartisan vote of 65-31!  While this doesn't assure the bill will be enacted into law, it represents a MAJOR first step toward ending the anti-gun lobby's reign of extortion through reckless lawsuits against the firearm industry.  The fight now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives, so it is critical that you once again contact your U.S. Representative and urge him/her to pass S. 397--"The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act."

As reported yesterday, an amendment by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) passed, which requires federally licensed dealers to provide a "secure gun storage or safety device" with the sale/transfer of every handgun (does not apply to long guns).  It does not require gun owners to use the device, does not apply to private transfers, and does not create any new civil liability for gun owners who choose not to use these storage devices. Virtually all new handguns today are sold with some type of secure storage or safety device.  The amendment has no significant impact on current law or S. 397 itself.

The U.S. Senate rejected a slew of anti-gun amendments to S. 397 including:

  • Special "carve out" amendments by Sens. Corzine (D-N.J.) and Lautenberg (D-N.J.) that would have permitted reckless lawsuits by law enforcement and juveniles to continue unabated.  Both were soundly defeated;

  • A ban on "armor piercing" ammunition (Kennedy-D-Mass.) (by a vote of 31-64) that would have banned virtually all hunting ammunition. Similar efforts have been continuously defeated by Congress, and Sen. Kennedy's most recent attempt was nothing more than anti-gun political posturing.  (The Senate did adopt an amendment by Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) calling for increased penalties if "armor piercing" handgun  ammunition is used in the commission of a crime.), and;

  • A "gutting" amendment by Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) that sought to continue to allow the very types of suits  S. 397 prohibits (by a vote of 33-63).

This long overdue victory marks the culmination of your tireless efforts--your phone calls, faxes, letters, e-mails, and personal meetings--over the past few days, and over the past many years.  As critical as these efforts were, this victory also highlights your importance in volunteering and voting for pro-gun candidates running for office.  Without your steadfast work in past election years to elect more pro-gun U.S. Senators, we simply would not have had enough votes to pass this bill in the Senate.

Defeating former Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) in the 2004 elections (Daschle, as you'll recall was the architect who last year allowed the bill to be loaded up with anti-gun amendments), and thus elevating Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), a consistent and longstanding supporter of S. 397, to that leadership position represented a major step toward guaranteeing we finally received a fair procedure to bring this measure up for a final vote, and carried out the will of a majority of the U.S. Senate.  And of course, members should express their gratitude to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Senator Minority Leader Harry Reid, and bill sponsors Sens. Larry Craig and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) for their leadership and stewardship on S. 397.

While this fight is far from over, the Senate's action today enabled us to overcome a major hurdle in enacting this legislation into law.  All of us at NRA-ILA thank you from the bottoms of our hearts for your continued vigilance in seeing this bill through the U.S. Senate.  You deserve a lion's share of the credit, and we know you will help us finish the job once and for all by now contacting your U.S. Representative and urging him/her to support "The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act."

(For a list of roll call votes on these amendments and final passage of S. 397, go to www.NRAILA.org.  Take note of how your Senators voted, and please thank those who voted in support of gun owners and let those who voted against our rights know that you will keep their votes in mind when they are up for re-election.  BE SURE TO ALSO ATTEND ANY OF YOUR U.S. REPRESENTATIVE'S TOWN HALL MEETINGS DURING THE "SUMMER DISTRICT WORK PERIOD" [Aug. 1-Sept. 5] and encourage him/her to bring up and pass S. 397 as soon as possible.)

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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.