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Gun liability bill overloaded with provisions that would hurt
the rights of Alaska's hunters and sportsmen, says Murkowski

March 03, 2004
Wednesday - 1:00 am

Saying the gun liability bill had become overloaded with provisions that would have hurt the rights of Alaska's hunters and sportsmen, Sen. Lisa Murkowski Tuesday voted to shelve gun liability legislation, at least for the present.

Murkowski joined a host of Republicans in voting against a gun maker liability law after opponents of the legislation succeeded in adding amendments that would have prevented private parties from selling guns to other private parties at gun shows without first gaining background checks, and that extended a needless ban on some semi-automatic weapons. The bill failed by a final vote of 90-8.

"After the amendments passed, it just became clear that the overall liability provision, while helpful to law abiding citizens' right to use guns for recreational purposes and self protection, had become too onerous to approve. Democratic Presidential politics clearly came into play," said Murkowski in opposing the final measure.

"The effort by liberals to kill the bill by adding these amendments is doubly unfortunate because not only is the underlining liability issue important, the bill also contained an amendment to allow law officers to carry concealed weapons when they are off duty ­ an important step in fighting crime," she said, noting the amendment passed 91-8.

Murkowski had voted against two of the amendments to the bill, an amendment by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that continued for another 10 years a previous Clinton-era ban on some assault weapons. It passed, 52-47. The second amendment, on so-called gun show sales, had been offered by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. It passed, 53-46 with Murkowski voting against both.

Murkowski said she voted against the Feinstein amendment because extending the ban was bad policy since all actual assault weapons are already banned from sale under other federal law. She said the Feinstein ban actually only affects semi-automatic "look-alike" guns often used in Alaska for hunting, target practice/competitions and sometimes for home protection. She added that over the past five years there is little evidence that the ban has done anything to reduce crime, especially since assault weapons are almost never involved in gun crimes. She noted statistics of gun victims indicated that fewer than 14 of a percent of victims had been shot with assault weapons, which are difficult to conceal and use in crimes.

She said she voted against the so-called gun show provision because it would have restricted sales of gun among gun collectors that are completely legal and proper.

"Given all the calls to my offices in the state yesterday and today, it was clear that Alaskan gun owners understood that passage of the bill with the proposed amendments was worse than leaving the status quo in effect. That is what we'll do for the time being," said Murkowski.

The future for the overall gun liability bill (S. 1805) is now clouded, but proponents including Murkowski will look for another opportunity to pass a clean bill. The bill would have prevented suits against gun manufacturers for damages resulting from the misuse of guns by criminals. The growing number of such suits appear designed to drive gun makers out of business, limiting the availability of firearms for sportsmen and recreationists.



Source of News Release:

Office of Senator Lisa Murkowski
Web Site


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