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NRA Flexes Its Muscles

The National Rifle Association has thrown its heavy artillery into a battle against cities seeking damages for the cost of gun-related violence.

Last week, the city of Atlanta filed a lawsuit against 17 gun manufacturers. But on Tuesday, the governor of Georgia signed a bill backed by the high-powered gun lobby that prohibits such lawsuits.

CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts reports that the new Georgia law is the first of its kind in the nation. Here in a state where the NRA has close to 100,000 members, the law will prohibit any city or county from suing a gun manufacturer for damages.

Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell said he's stunned.

"I think it's the inherent power of the gun lobby. The overwhelming margin that this legislation passed in both the House and Senate is fairly astounding," Campbell said.

Five cities have sued gun manufacturers for damages relating to the injuries and deaths caused by gun shot wounds. That has made the gun lobby nervous, and the NRA began a campaign to stop the suits.

"We believe as we've believed for years that the best way to keep gun crime under control in your city is to prosecute those people who are actually committing the crimes with firearms," said James Baker of the NRA.

The NRA says it will now press legislatures in at least 30 other states, including Florida, where the Miami-Dade County Commission has its own lawsuit pending.

"The problem is that this industry is washing its hands clean of the blood of children in favor of profits. They prefer profits to safety," said Alex Paneas of the Miami-Dade County Commission.

The cities that are suing the gun makers are using the same strategy the states used when they took on big tobacco and won a $206 billion settlement last year.

"It's the same strategy created by the same group of greedy lawyers who are in it for the money," said the NRA's Baker.

The NRA says it plans to put pressure on the Louisiana legislature next -- another southern state where the NRA is strong and its membership list long and influential.

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