July 28, 2005

Senate backs trigger locks for guns

By Joanne Kenen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate on Thursday strongly
backed requiring child safety locks to be sold with all
handguns, part of a broader debate over a legal shield for the
gun industry.

The amendment was approved by a bipartisan 70-30 vote. The
Senate has backed similar measures several times in recent
years, but the legislation has always died in larger struggles
over gun politics.

The amendment's lead sponsor, Democrat Herb Kohl of
Wisconsin, said he did not know what the ultimate outcome would
be this time around but told reporters after the vote, "The
American people overwhelmingly support safety locks."

The Senate is debating the "Protection of Lawful Commerce
in Arms" bill that would protect the gun industry from civil

It is a top priority of the National Rifle Association, the
influential gun lobby, and the White House has strongly
endorsed it. It is expected to pass the Senate in the next day
or two, and win House approval later this year.

Backers of the bill have sought to keep it clear of
amendments. Last year they ended up sinking their own
legislation rather than accept gun control amendments, but the
child lock provision is among the less controversial firearms
safety measures.

The Kohl amendment requires a trigger lock or safe storage
device with any handgun sold by a licensed dealer.

Lawmakers continued to spar over the sweep of the lawsuit
protection bill. Backers said it would halt
politically-inspired "junk" lawsuits aimed at running the gun
industry out of business by holding law-abiding gun makers and
sellers responsible if a purchaser used a gun in a crime.

Critics say the bill is actually far more sweeping and
would make it nearly impossible to hold gun sellers responsible
for reckless behavior, such as selling weapons to "straw
buyers" covering for criminals.