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First Reckless Lawsuit Meets Final Demise

Friday, October 12, 2001

The City of New Orleans continues to set precedents when it comes to reckless lawsuits designed to bankrupt the nation`s gun manufacturers—but most are not the kind its mayor hoped for. New Orleans was the first city to file a reckless lawsuit against the firearms industry, under the orders of anti-gun Mayor Marc Morial (D), setting the stage for more than two dozen that followed. The New Orleans suit, however, was also the first to be rejected by a state supreme court earlier this year. And on Tuesday, the Supreme Court of the United States let stand the April 3 ruling by the Louisiana Supreme Court, making the New Orleans suit the first of its kind to be rejected by the highest court in the land.

The New Orleans suit was the model for several similar suits promoted by anti-gun government officials. These suits have been brought in collaboration with a mix of anti-gun organizations—whose goal is to drive gun makers out of business—and a cabal of greedy trial lawyers, who are eager to line their pockets with the proceeds from any judgements or settlements that might come in their favor.

When the Louisiana Supreme Court dismissed the New Orleans lawsuit on a 5 - 2 ruling, it upheld the Louisiana state law passed last year that bars municipalities from filing lawsuits against the firearms industry. This week`s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court represents a crushing defeat for those who promote these reckless lawsuits. While the decision does not set any specific legal precedent, it clearly indicates the highest court in the land does not intend to interfere with state laws that prohibit municipalities from filing reckless suits against gun makers. NRA has been able to increase the number of states with such prohibitions to 27, choking off the ability of anti-gun extremists to pursue their gun-ban agenda at taxpayer expense.

This week`s rejection of the New Orleans lawsuit also appears to have brought at least a temporary end to a similar suit filed by Bridgeport, Conn. On October 1, the Connecticut Supreme Court upheld a ruling that dismissed Bridgeport`s suit in 1999 because the city lacked "...any statutory authorization to initiate...claims" of liability against the firearms industry. After this week`s rejection of the New Orleans suit, Bridgeport`s anti-gun Mayor Joseph Ganim (D) told the Associated Press this week that an appeal of his city`s suit to the U.S. Supreme Court was, "[P]robably not a likely route for us," and, "It`s not likely we`re in a very strong position." He did, however, indicate that he would not rule out other avenues to continue his abuse of the courts, stating he would speak with Connecticut`s anti-gun Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D), who supported the Bridgeport suit, to explore all options.

The continued accumulation of losses through the courts appears to have become so unsettling to the gun-ban lobby formerly known as HCI that it seems to have escalated it campaign of making grossly misleading statements. The group`s president, Michael Barnes, misled Congress earlier this year while testifying before the Senate, and now Dennis Henigan, who heads Barnes` lawsuit arm, has also been caught making misleading statements. After the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the New Orleans appeal, Henigan`s attempt to misrepresent his group`s mounting legal losses was met with sharp criticism by National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) President Robert Delfay. Henigan, speaking of the status of the reckless lawsuit campaign, claimed, "You have cases going both ways. It`s pretty much split down the middle." But Delfay responded by stating, "These comments by Mr. Henigan totally misrepresent the true status of the municipal litigation against the firearms industry." Delfay went on to say, "By far, the consensus by judges reviewing these cases is that there is no basis in law to hold the manufacturer of a legally sold, non-defective product responsible for the criminal misuse of that product. The attempt by nearly 30 municipalities to do so is totally political and distasteful, as is Mr. Henigan`s misrepresentation of the status of these lawsuits."

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.