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Chicago Court Case Bucks Common Sense Trend

Friday, January 4, 2002

As reported by the New York Times (Jan. 3) and other media outlets, on Monday, an appellate court in Illinois upheld a reckless lawsuit against various gun manufacturers and distributors, claiming they were creating a public nuisance. The claim rests on the bizarre theory that since guns are sold in communities outside Chicago -- which has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation -- the gun industry is intentionally flooding that market with guns they know will illegally find their way into the city where they would be used by criminals.

The case involves a Chicago police officer killed in 1998 and four other victims killed in unrelated incidents. Judge William Cousins, Jr.wrote, "A reasonable trier of fact could find that the criminal misuse of guns killing persons were occurrences that defendants knew would result or were substantially certain to result from the defendants’ alleged conduct." Such scenarios are a possibility, but to suggest such hypothesis is "reasonable" stretches the bounds of credulity, as well as long-established law.

In September 2000, a previous Chicago suit was dismissed at the trial level (and is on appeal before the same panel) that found the city’s public nuisance complaint didn’t hold water. Monday’s ruling could still be appealed to the Illinois State Supreme Court.

Despite the fact that a majority of these reckless suits have been thrown out on their ears, this latest ruling demonstrates that there are still misguided jurists out there willing to defy both common sense and legal precedent. Further, it should serve as a clarion call for passage of H.R. 2037.

Currently with 203 co-sponsors, H.R. 2037 is the NRA-supported reckless lawsuit preemption bill introduced by U.S. Representatives Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Chris John (D-La.). This legislation seeks to prevent abuses to the American legal system that have seen firearms and ammunition manufacturers being recklessly sued for the criminal misuse of their lawful products by third parties.

If your U.S. Representative has not yet signed on as a co-sponsor for this much-needed legislation, he needs to hear from you today! To find out if your Representative is a co-sponsor, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/, and type in "H.R. 2037" in the space to search by bill number or you can call NRA-ILA Grassroots at (800) 392-8683. If your Representative is not a co-sponsor, you can contact him by calling the U.S. House of Representatives’ main switchboard at (202) 225-3121, then asking to be transferred to your Representative’s office. For additional contact information, please use the "Write Your Reps" tool at NRAILA.org. Be sure to encourage your family, friends, and fellow firearm owners to contact their Representatives as well and encourage them to co-sponsor H.R. 2037!

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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.