Guns and cheeseburgers for all

The Republican-controlled Congress delivered a long-sought victory to the gun industry when the House of Representatives, with considerable Democratic support, voted to shield firearms manufacturers and dealers from liability lawsuits. The bill now goes to President Bush, who has promised to sign it. Yes we hope so.

The gun liability bill has for years been the No. 1 legislative priority of the National Rifle Association, which has lobbied lawmakers intensely for it.
Its final passage, by a vote of 283 to 144, reflects the changing politics of gun control, an issue that many Democrats began shying away from after Al Gore was defeated for president in 2000.

"It's a historic piece of legislation," said Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A.'s president, who said the bill was the most significant victory for the gun lobby since Congress rewrote the federal gun control law in 1986. "

As of Oct. 20, the Second Amendment is probably in the best shape in this country that it's been in decades." Backers of the measure say it is necessary to keep the American arms industry in business, while opponents say the bill deprives people of a legitimate right to sue. Mr. DeLay issued a statement praising the gun bill vote as an important step toward revamping the nation's tort law system.

On Wednesday, the House passed another tort measure, the so-called "cheeseburger bill," which protects the restaurant industry from obesity-related lawsuits.
"We must protect America's legal system for genuine plaintiffs with genuine causes of action, real defendants and vital industries that serve our constitutional freedoms in an honest and legitimate fashion," Mr. DeLay said

From today:
Representative Tom DeLay entered a criminal courtroom today for the first time to face his nemesis, the Texas county prosecutor who has charged with Mr. DeLay with money laundering and conspiracy, but the proceedings were brought to a halt almost as soon as they began.

From yesterday:
Mr. DeLay is accused of money laundering and conspiracy in a scheme that prosecutors say funneled thousands of dollars in corporate donations to Republican legislative candidates in 2002 in Texas in violation of the state's century-old ban on corporate money in state campaigns.

In that election, Republicans captured the Texas House of Representatives for the first time in 130 years, allowing Mr. DeLay's allies here to redraw Congressional districts to allow more Republicans to be sent to Washington.

Mr. DeLay is free on $10,000 bail, which was set Thursday after a brief appearance at the sheriff's office in downtown Houston - close to his home in Sugar Land - at which he was fingerprinted and photographed. His booking photograph, in which Mr. DeLay is smiling broadly, as if the photo was meant for a campaign ad, dominated the front page of newspapers throughout Texas today.

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