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House Republican fires on Smith & Wesson

Adds language barring 'special treatment' to spending bill

May 18, 2000
Web posted at: 1:35 p.m. EDT (1735 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Rep. John Hostettler has inserted language into the House's Department of Defense spending bill for fiscal 2001 that would prevent the Pentagon from giving special procurement preference to gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson.

Guns

A spokesman for Hostettler (R-Indiana) said the prohibition would only prevent the Defense Department from giving special preference to Smith & Wesson because the company entered into a "political agreement" with the White House.

Michael Jahr, Hostettler's spokesman, said the congressman only wanted to ensure that the Defense Department buys the best equipment for U.S. military personnel.

But opponents of the measure, including Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-New York) a gun-control proponent, said the prohibition represents retaliation against Smith & Wesson for breaking ranks with the gun industry, and would effectively bar the company from selling any equipment to the Pentagon.

  MESSAGE BOARD
 

Two months ago, Smith & Wesson, the nation's largest handgun manufacturer, antagonized the industry and the National Rifle Association by entering into a voluntary agreement with the Clinton Administration to install trigger locks on all of its weapons and to not sell weapons to unauthorized dealers.

In return, the federal government -- as well as several local and state governments -- promised not to pursue litigation against the company, and a promise by the local and state law-enforcement agencies to purchase Smith & Wesson firearms.

A congressional source told CNN the gun lobby plans to put the same prohibition on each of the 13 spending bills to be approved by Congress this year.

McCarthy was trying Tuesday to convince the House Rules Committee to allow her to offer an amendment that would strike the language. Her spokeswoman said she had not been told by late Tuesday whether she would be allowed to do so.

McCarthy's husband was killed and her son injured in 1993 by Long Island Railroad gunman Colin Ferguson. She left Washington Tuesday to attend the funeral Wednesday of the 17-year-old son of colleague Bart Stupak (D-Michigan). The teenager committed suicide Sunday by shooting himself.

McCarthy's staff said the Hostettler amendment sets a bad precedent by singling out firearms and ammunition manufacturers, but could affect other groups that are given "preference" by the federal government in procurement.

The federal government gives preference to veterans, women, minorities and disabled people in different procurement programs.

The Defense Department bill is pending on the House floor, but votes were delayed so that House members could attend the Stupak funeral.

 
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