The U.S. Senate appears poised to pass a top priority of the National Rifle Association this week: legislation to shield the gun industry from lawsuits arising from the misuse of its weapons, reports the Los Angeles Times. Gun manufacturers argue that a law is needed to protect them from suits filed by municipalities or individuals that could bankrupt some firms. Dozens of such lawsuits are pending. Last year, gun control supporters blocked the bill in the Republican-controlled Senate. The November election increased the Republicans’ Senate majority by four seats and made Democrats wary of the political cost of supporting gun control.
The bill’s proponents predicted that it could pass before the Senate adjourned this week for its monthlong summer recess. The House passed a similar measure last year and was expected to pass it again. The bill’s improved chances of passage demonstrated “the power of the gun lobby, pure and simple,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.), who opposes the measure. Ben Tolchin, a Democratic pollster, said gun control was “one of a series of issues that Democrats have been reevaluating in the aftermath of the last couple of elections – particularly ’04.”