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Jury Rejects NAACP Claims -- Will Judge Concur?

Friday, May 16, 2003

On May 14, an advisory jury in the NAACP`s lawsuit against a number of gun manufacturers rendered its verdict. After nearly five days of deliberation, the jury unanimously found 38 of the industry defendants not liable for the criminal misuse of their products. Seven other defendants were exonerated by a vote of at least 10 of the 12 jurors. In 23 additional instances, the jury rendered no decision. Not a single defendant was found intentionally or negligently responsible for any public nuisance, as the NAACP tried to claim.

Lawrence Keane, vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), said of the verdict, "We welcome the advisory jury`s common sense finding that the manufacturers and distributors of firearms are not responsible for the criminal misuse of their products." Keane continued, "This victory demonstrates the claims made by the NAACP and others are baseless and entirely without merit and proves the firearm industry is a highly-regulated and law-abiding industry."

The jury verdict, however, does not bring an official close to this case. The presiding judge, Jack B. Weinstein, who has a history of judicial activism penalizing the gun industry, will use the jury`s decision only in an advisory capacity. The jury`s decision can be accepted or rejected in whole or part by Weinstein in the next 30 days.

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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.