Gun lawsuit ban clears legislature

Thursday, May 15, 2003

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The House of Representatives took final legislative action aimed at stopping St. Louis city's lawsuit against the firearms industry over the social costs of gun violence.

The House sent the bill to Gov. Bob Holden on a 113-37 vote. The Senate approved the measure 24-9 in February.

Those margins are sufficient to override a veto should Holden, often a supporter of gun-control advocates, exercise that power. However, some Democrats who favor the bill could be unwilling to override a Democratic governor on the issue.

Although the St. Louis lawsuit has languished in the courts for several years, Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau, said his bill is still needed to ensure it never proceeds. Kinder has been pushing the measure for four years.

"It was always our intention to reach that lawsuit and bring the curtain down on it," Kinder said.

The bill was the second major victory of the legislative session for Second Amendment advocates, Kinder said.

Two weeks ago, lawmakers sent Holden a bill authorizing law-abiding Missourians to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons. The governor has vowed to veto that measure.

Under Kinder's proposal, the state and local governments would be prohibited from suing the firearms industry over the legal manufacture and sale of guns and ammunition. Private lawsuits over injuries caused by defective weapons would be unaffected.

The St. Louis case and others like it around the country were modeled after the successful national lawsuit against cigarette companies over the public costs of treating sick smokers.

The House action occurred on the same day a federal jury in New York found in a similar case that gun companies aren't responsible for violent acts committed with their products.

The bill is SB 13.

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