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Bush quietly signs NRA-backed gun bill

By Jane Caplan/CNN

June 18, 1999
Web posted at: 6:06 p.m. EDT (2206 GMT)

WASHINGTON (June 18) -- Texas Gov. George W. Bush signed Friday a bill that would prevent cities, counties and local governments from suing firearm and ammunition manufacturers for the public costs associated with gun violence.

According to a spokesperson in his office, Bush signed the bill Friday afternoon with no public ceremony. The legislation is commonly referred to as a "lawsuit preemption bill" and was backed by the National Rifle Association.

The Texas Legislature passed the bill in May, after defeating an amendment calling for mandatory background checks at gun shows.

No Texas municipality had indicated an intention to file suit against gun manufacturers, but the NRA felt Texas had the right climate for passage of the bill.

"Governor Bush has always been good on this issue," said NRA spokesman Bill Powers.

The gun issue is a thorny one for Bush, the leading GOP presidential contender. So far he has been running as a candidate of "compassionate conservatism," appealing to centrist voters, particularly suburban women, by stressing issues like education and helping the underprivileged. Polls consistently show that this group of voters favor gun control.

According to Bush spokesperson Scott McClellan, the Texas governor supports the bill because he believes that "in order to curb frivolous lawsuits, the attorney general should be the clearinghouse to review issues involving a legal product which is being misused for criminal purposes."


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Friday, June 18, 1999

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