Skip to comments.Assault Weapons Ban Picks Up GOP Support as Gun Issues Head to Senate Floor
Posted on 02/25/2004 3:59:49 AM PST by RockChucker
Assault Weapons Ban Picks Up GOP Support as Gun Issues Head to Senate Floor By Jesse J. Holland Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Three Republican senators agreed Tuesday to support renewal of the soon-to-expire assault weapons ban, a small victory for gun control proponents as the Senate prepares to wade into several contentious gun issues this election year. The GOP-controlled Senate plans to take up legislation Wednesday that would immunize gun manufacturers and distributors from lawsuits that arise from crimes in which guns were used.
Senate Republicans have enough votes to approve the legislation. Democrats plan to force votes on at least two other gun issues they want to attach to it, however, amendments to renew the assault weapons ban and to require background checks for all purchasers at gun shows.
Gun rights groups plan to urge majority Republicans to defeat both measures. The GOP-controlled House already has said it does not plan to approve the extension of the assault weapons ban.
"To protect the future of America's millions of gun owners, it is vital that the Senate pass (the lawsuits immunization bill) without any antigun amendments," the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action said on its Web site.
The White House also urged the Senate to pass the legislation without amendments.
"The administration urges the Senate to pass a clean bill, in order to ensure enactment of the legislation this year," the White House said in a statement. "Any amendment that would delay enactment of the bill beyond this year is unacceptable."
Getting the 1994 assault weapons prohibition renewed has been a Democratic priority this year. They picked up support Tuesday from GOP Sens. John Warner of Virginia, Mike DeWine of Ohio and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island.
"Although I voted against the ban a decade ago, over the past 10 years it has reduced crime dramatically and has made our streets safer," Warner said. "The legislation also has protected the rights of gun owners better than many of us predicted."
The three GOP senators' support does not guarantee the amendment's approval in the Senate, but "this gives the effort to renew the assault weapons ban new momentum," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a sponsor of the original assault weapons ban.
Republicans, along with several Senate Democrats, have been pushing for the gun immunity legislation for some time. Gun advocates say firearm makers shouldn't be forced to spend millions of dollars fighting off lawsuits designed to win large rewards and bankrupt them for making legal products.
"The manufacturer or seller of a legal, nondefective product should not be held liable for the criminal or unlawful misuse of that product by others," the White House said.
Democrats like Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota agreed to get behind the legislation after gun supporters accepted a specification that firearms manufacturers and distributors would not be protected from lawsuits that involved defective products or illegal sales.
The House has already passed the liability bill, without the AWB. If the Senate passes it with the AWB, or any other anti arms rights stuff, there will be a conference committee and their will be a vote to accept or reject the committee's version of the bill.
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