Bill Seeks to Protect Firearms Industry from Suits; Arms Act Likely to Pass House, Could Face Tough Fight in Senate
Byline: Brian DeBose, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Congress is again attempting to shield the firearms industry from civil liability lawsuits filed by third parties seeking damages for the criminal use of a gun.
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act is likely to pass the House much the same way it did when first introduced in 2003, on a bipartisan vote of 285-to-140. The bill never made it out of the Senate.
Democrats tacked on amendments to the bill that would have extended the assault weapons ban, required sellers at gun shows to conduct FBI criminal background checks, as well as made mandatory the inclusion of trigger locks with all handgun sales.
Extending the assault weapons ban is a deal breaker for a majority of Senate Republicans, said the bill's Senate sponsor, Sen. Larry E. Craig. "I don't think any of those amendments have value," the Idaho Republican said. "The industry, to protect themselves, is voluntarily including trigger locks already, so I don't see where that's necessary."
He said the argument to close the so-called gun show loophole is an attempt to undermine "a valuable commerce tool."
All federally licensed gun dealers are required to conduct criminal background checks on their customers, Mr. Craig said, but private citizens selling firearms at gun shows are not. He said such a requirement could push people out of the shows and into the streets, where the government loses all ability to track the sales.
Senate Democrats are expected to oppose the bill outright and introduce some of the same amendments with some alterations.
"[T]his issue of creating a carve-out for the gun industry to protect it from gross malfeasance makes no sense to me at all when any other industry is subject to liability," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who led the fight against the bill last year. …