Tags: Democrats | Try | Weaken | Gun | Legislation

Democrats Try to Weaken Gun Legislation

Thursday, 26 February 2004 12:00 AM

That would allow them to salvage something out of legislation many Democrats would rather not have passed.

However, the bill providing for immunity from suits when a legally sold gun is subsequently used in a crime won the support of 75 senators in a test vote Wednesday. Opponents acknowledge it has the backing to pass on the final vote next week.

So Democrats plan to push several of their gun bills as amendments to the gunmaker immunity legislation. They hope the bill's momentum will help carry their measures through as well.

"We all know this underlying bill has legs. That's why we want to get some amendments on there," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who plans to offer legislation Thursday requiring handguns to be equipped with child safety locks.

Before the final vote on Tuesday, Democrats also plan to force votes on a proposal to require unlicensed sellers to check buyers' backgrounds and gun shows and to extend for 10 years the ban on assault weapons.

The bill's Republican supporters insist that any attempt to make changes would simply amount to an attempt to kill the bill. For example, the GOP-controlled House already has said it does not plan to approve an extension of the expiring ban on what critics call "assault weapons."

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, a sponsor of the bill, said the amendments were an "attempt to divert legislation and delay final consideration."

The White House, which has indicated support for the assault weapons ban and the gun show measure, called on the Senate to pass the legislation without amendments.

"Any amendment that would delay enactment of the bill beyond this year is unacceptable," according to a White House statement released late Tuesday.

Democrats took that statement as an indication that President Bush was backing off his support for those two separate measures. "For the president to say he's for the assault weapons ban and act against it, that is a flip-flop if I've ever seen one," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

Republicans, along with some Senate Democrats, have pushed for the gun immunity legislation for some time. Gun rights advocates say firearm manufacturers make legal products and should not have to spend millions of dollars fighting off lawsuits.

Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, agreed to get behind the legislation after gun rights supporters agreed that firearms makers and distributors would not be immune to suits involving defective products or illegal sales.

Other Democrats said the bill was nothing more than a giveaway to the gun industry. "We have huge problems in this country, but we're spending time trying to protect the special interests of a special group," said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.

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That would allow them to salvage something out of legislation many Democrats would rather not have passed. However, the bill providing for immunity from suits when a legally sold gun is subsequently used in a crime won the support of 75 senators in a test vote...
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2004-00-26
Thursday, 26 February 2004 12:00 AM
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