Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Courts Reject Lawsuits Against Gun Makers

Thursday, October 16, 2003

More than two dozen cities and counties have filed suit against the firearms industry for law enforcement and public health expenses those localities say they incur from gun injuries and deaths. Court after court, including the U.S. Supreme Court and three state Supreme Courts, have rejected these lawsuits. Spearheaded by the anti-gun lobby, the suits are intended to circumvent Congress and state legislatures--all of which have rejected handgun prohibition legislation--by attempting to achieve handgun prohibition through the courts.

There are basically two claims used by the localities that have filed suit. Their "public nuisance" claims allege that manufacturers have created a public nuisance by flooding the market, in areas with less-restrictive gun control laws, so that the criminals in other areas can gain access to guns. This theory is severely flawed on several counts, chief among them the belief that gun control laws prevent crime and that, somehow, criminals will obey such laws. It`s also ridiculous to believe that the gun industry wants to supply guns to the criminal element.

Other suits allege that the manufacturers have been negligent because they have not developed a "smart" gun which can be fired only by its owner. The plaintiffs conveniently ignore the fact that the technology they demand has yet to become practical. In a National Review article (Dec. 21, 1998), Prof. John R. Lott, Jr. wrote: "The futuristic guns advocated in the New Orleans suit . . . are far from reliable and will cost $900 when they are finally available." That cost, he said, "will fall far more heavily on law-abiding citizens than on criminals, decreasing the number of innocent people who could use guns to protect themselves." Even if so-called "smart" guns prevented some accidental gun deaths, they would do so at what price? How many more lives might be lost because mandating such technology diminishes the ability of less affluent citizens to defend themselves and their families?

In all these suits the plaintiffs seek to wipe out centuries-old tort law principle. In product liability cases, plaintiffs traditionally have been able to sue for compensation for injuries because: 1) a product was defective, 2) the defect posed an unreasonable danger to the user, and 3) the defect caused the injury. A "defective" product is one that doesn`t operate as a reasonable manufacturer would design and make it, as a reasonable consumer would expect, or as other products of its type. Courts uniformly have held that a defect must exist in the product at the time it was sold, and that a plaintiff`s injury must have been the result of that defect. Defendants can`t be held liable for injuries that occur only because a properly operating product is criminally or negligently misused.

Recognizing that the real intent of anti-gun politicians and their lawyers is to bankrupt a lawful industry with exorbitant legal expenses, state legislatures across the nation are reacting by prohibiting localities from filing these suits. Since the first suit was introduced, 33 states have enacted NRA-backed legislation that does just that (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming).

While anti-gun organizations, including the American Bar Association, have used crime victims to create these lawsuits in order to further their political agenda, courts in numerous states have made it clear that these cases have no basis in law.

On Oct. 7, 1999, Ohio Judge Robert Ruehlman dismissed with prejudice Cincinnati`s suit, calling it "an improper attempt to have this court substitute its judgment for that of the legislature, something which this court is neither inclined nor empowered to do."

On December 10, 1999, Superior Court Judge Robert F. McWeeny threw out the city of Bridgeport`s suit, writing: "(T)he court finds as a matter of law that the plaintiffs lack standing to litigate these claims; thus, the court is without jurisdiction to hear this case."

On December 13, 1999 Florida Circuit Judge Amy Dean dismissed Miami-Dade County`s lawsuit against the industry with a similar decision, stating that: "Public nuisance does not apply to the design, manufacture, and distribution of a lawful product."

Recently, three state supreme courts ruled against frivolous lawsuits:

On April 3, 2001, the Louisiana Supreme Court voted 5-2 to dismiss the City of New Orleans suit, the first of its kind to be filed, upholding the state law which forbids municipalities in Louisiana from bringing these types of suits. (In October, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Louisiana court`s decision to stand, by refusing to review the case on appeal.)

On August 6, 2001, the California Supreme Court issued a 5-1 ruling that gun manufacturers cannot be held responsible when their products are used to commit crimes. The Court decision referred to a 1983 California law prohibiting this type of lawsuit.

On October 1, 2001, 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 the rejection of the New Orleans suit, Bridgeport`s Mayor Joseph Ganim told the Associated Press an appeal of his city`s suit to the U.S. Supreme Court was, "probably not a likely route for us" and "It`s not likely we`re in a very strong position."

IN THIS ARTICLE
Reckless Lawsuits
TRENDING NOW
Reuniting The United States With Reciprocity

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Reuniting The United States With Reciprocity

Most concealed-carry permit holders understand the potential pitfalls of traveling with a firearm, given the outrageous patchwork of state laws involved in even a short interstate trip. And while we haven’t posted much about reciprocity ...

Dianne Feinstein Wants to Ban Commonly Owned Semi-Autos, Again!

News  

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Dianne Feinstein Wants to Ban Commonly Owned Semi-Autos, Again!

Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced S. 2095, which she is calling the Assault Weapons Ban of 2017. The 125-page firearm prohibition fever dream is perhaps the most far-reaching gun ban ever introduced in Congress.

This Man Did Not Write A Second (Class) Amendment

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, November 3, 2017

This Man Did Not Write A Second (Class) Amendment

Courts are telling gun owners that they must choose between their Second Amendment-protected rights and their other constitutional rights. 

When Gun Control Fails

News  

Second Amendment  

Friday, July 21, 2017

When Gun Control Fails

Gun control is pushed as a strategy to keep Americans safe in their homes, schools and workplaces. It is presented as the key component in safer streets, neighborhoods and families. But what happens when gun ...

New Evidence against Gun Confiscation

News  

Second Amendment  

Thursday, November 9, 2017

New Evidence against Gun Confiscation

We recently discussed the selection of input variables for statistical modeling and how such choices can alter one’s findings. New research published in the Journal of Experimental Criminology examines how the choice in methodology can alter one’s findings. 

Revolving Door Of Wrong Solutions

News  

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Revolving Door Of Wrong Solutions

There are plenty of pundits who also seem more enamored with the idea of doing something big than doing something that works. The Boston Globe recently devoted space to the argument that “if gun-control advocates really want to stanch the blood, there’s ...

Less Complaining And More Encouraging

News  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Less Complaining And More Encouraging

It seems a little dramatic to blame these fine folks for the entire five hours. It can be assumed that there was no camera covering the specific area where the killings occurred and some period ...

Free Beacon  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Gabby Giffords’s Gun Control Group Releases Report Warning of Muzzleloaders, Other Firearms

Former congresswoman Gabby Giffords's gun control group released a report on Wednesday warning of the dangers of muzzle loading rifles, a number of other firearms, and some firearms accessories and calling for new gun control ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Congress Needs to Hear from YOU on National Right to Carry!

News  

Friday, November 3, 2017

Congress Needs to Hear from YOU on National Right to Carry!

With the clock ticking, it’s now more necessary than ever to ensure Congress prioritizes action on national reciprocity.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
NRA ILA

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.