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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 July 2005, 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK
US Senate backs gun industry bill
Handgun, Corbis
The bill is backed by the National Rifle Association
The US Senate has backed a bill providing sweeping legal protection to the firearms industry.

It aims to block lawsuits designed to hold gun makers or sellers responsible for gun crimes.

It was passed by 65 votes to 31, and is expected to be approved by the House of Representatives after August's recess.

Supporters of the bill say it will protect the industry from bankruptcy, but opponents say it needs no such special protection.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was strongly backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the influential gun lobby, and has the support of President George W Bush.

Fourteen Democrats, including Minority Leader Harry Reid, backed the bill, along with most Republicans and one independent. Two Republicans voted against.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Senator Larry Craig, said: "This bill says go after the criminal, don't go after the law-abiding gun manufacturer or the law-abiding gun seller."

Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy, who opposed the bill, said: "This bill has one motivation - payback by the Bush administration and the Republican leadership of the Congress to the powerful special interest of the National Rifle Association."

'Cop-killer' bullets

The NRA said it was a historic vote for freedom and "a groundbreaking step forward for law-abiding firearm manufacturers, retailers and owners in this country".

But the Violence Policy Center said it was a "go-ahead by the US Senate for a reckless, cynical, unregulated industry to sell their increasingly lethal products at tremendous cost to the general public".

The bill's opponents had hoped to amend it to include some gun control provisions, such as restricting armour-piercing or "cop-killer" bullets.

But, except for adding a requirement that handguns be sold with childproof trigger locks, they failed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, some 30,000 people a year are killed by firearms in the US.

The Senate also gave final approval to a controversial White House-backed energy bill including billions of dollars of tax incentives for oil and nuclear companies.

President Bush said the measure would reduce America's dependence on foreign sources of energy, but environmental groups and other critics say it simply provides further benefits to the country's lucrative energy industry.

Americans split on gun ban's end
14 Sep 04 |  Americas

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