Washington — After four days of emotionally charged debate, the Senate easily approved a broad liability exemption for the firearms industry Friday that would protect gun manufacturers and sellers from lawsuits by shooting victims.
The legislation, which passed 65-31, would protect the industry from a rash of lawsuits in recent years, including the 33 cases brought by government entities such as the District of Columbia. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said the suits could bankrupt gunmakers and threaten police and military firearm supplies.
In a joint statement, National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre and lobbyist Chris Cox called the Senate vote historic and said the bill would "put an end to politically motivated predatory lawsuits."
Fourteen Democrats along with Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt., supported the legislation, although few spoke publicly in favor of it.