Senate Votes Down Gun Liability Bill

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:30 PM EDT

( - In a vote of 90-8, the Senate Tuesday voted against the gun liability bill (S. 1805) after Democrats loaded it with amendments, including the reauthorization of a ban on so-called assault weapons.

The bill would protect gun manufacturers, distributors and sellers from lawsuits; ban civil lawsuits in federal and state court and dismiss pending suits; and permit lawsuits only for defective products or illegal sales.

"I now believe it is so dramatically wounded that I would urge my colleagues to vote against it," said Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), sponsor of the bill, who had earlier promised to vote against the amendments.

The first amendment to pass, which was introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), renewed a ban on so-called assault weapons.

Next, an amendment introduced by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), which closes the gun show loophole, was approved. The loophole allows weapons to be purchases without background checks at gun shows.

Then the Senate approved an amendment introduced by Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), which allows off-duty and retired officers to carry concealed weapons.

President Bush supports reauthorizing the assault weapons ban and requiring background checks for those who buy weapons at gun shows. But he wants the bill to pass the Senate without any amendments so that it clears the House and ends up on his desk for his signature.

Democrats were pleased with the outcome of the vote, even though it means their amendments won't make it to the president's desk.

"The immunity bill was a terrible bill. We're better off at the end of the day than we were at the beginning of the day," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Democratic presidential candidates Sens. John Edwards and John Kerry were on hand, taking time out from the campaign trail on Super Tuesday to cast their votes for two of the amendments.

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