Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.) promised a vote on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (S 397) before the Senate leaves Washington for its month-long recess July 29. The bill shields gun manufacturers from lawsuits seeking damages from the unlawful misuse of a firearm by a third party. Sponsored by Sen. Larry Craig (R.-Idaho) and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R.-Fla.)–with 56 co-sponsors in the Senate and 257 co-sponsors in the House–the bill has more than enough votes to pass. Despite similar support last year, liberal Senate Democrats succeeded in derailing the bill by attaching amendments reauthorizing the “assault weapons” ban. Frist has taken a new strategy this year, claiming the Defense Department faces a prospect of outsourcing its firearms contracts to foreign manufacturers due to the financial threats the lawsuits pose to American companies. “These frivolous suits threaten a domestic industry that is critical to our national defense,” Frist said. All but five Senate Republicans are supporting the bill: Senators Lincoln Chafee (R.I.), Mike DeWine (Ohio), Richard Lugar (Ind.), John McCain (Ariz.) and John Warner (Va.).
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