The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that would protect gun companies from civil lawsuits filed by the victims of crime.

The bill passed with support from both Republicans and Democrats, in a vote of 283 to 144.  The Senate passed the bill in July, so it now goes for final approval to President Bush, who has promised to sign it into law.

The bill would prohibit lawsuits against the firearms industry for damage inflicted by unlawful use of a gun or ammunition.  Gunmakers have complained that paying damages from such cases could bankrupt the industry.

It does not ban civil lawsuits for defective products, negligence or breach of contract.

The bill's passage is seen as a victory for the powerful National Rifle Association, which lobbies against gun-control legislation.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.