The New York Times
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2005

Three years ago, those in and around America's capital lived in fear of a pair of snipers who killed 10 and wounded three in random attacks with a Bushmaster XM-15 .223-caliber telescopic rifle - a gleaming, civilian version of the U.S. Army's basic M-16 assault rifle popular with recreational shooters. In the aftermath, the rifle was traced to a shoddy gun dealer who claimed he somehow "lost" that war weapon and 200 other guns to the underground market. Victimized families sued in grief and outrage and won $2.5 million in a settlement that most Americans - except Congress - would pronounce proper.
The House of Representatives, in callow disregard of cause and effect in America's harrowing gun carnage, is about to take aim at the Bushmaster settlement by voting what is expected to be final approval of a bill to grant assault-proof protection from damage suits to the gun industry, from manufacturers to dealers. This extraordinary shield, written to the diktat of the National Rifle Association, is so sweeping that it would have barred the D.C. sniper settlement and other valid negligence claims, according to legal experts stunned that any industry could ever win such blanket immunity. The House's eagerness is obscene as the gun lobby herds lawmakers from both parties behind a bill to deny victimized families their fair day in court.
President George W. Bush talked favorably about the assault weapons ban as a candidate but was notoriously mute when the Republican Congress let the ban expire last year. Surely he would not compound America's gun scourge by signing the immunity bill.