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
Outrage of the Week: Shopify Targets America's Guns

News  

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Outrage of the Week: Shopify Targets America's Guns

Hundreds of firearms retailers may have to close soon because a powerful Canadian tech company, Shopify, recently decided it was anti-gun and issued an ultimatum: Do business our way or not at all.

Divided Appeals Panel Upholds California Ban on Post-2013 Pistols

News  

Friday, August 10, 2018

Divided Appeals Panel Upholds California Ban on Post-2013 Pistols

Imagine if California, to combat what the legislature considered the serious problem of manmade global warming, required all new vehicles sold by car dealers in the state to run on grass clippings, rather than fossil ...

King County Unveils “Common Sense” Action Plan: Ban “Semi-automatic, High Velocity Weapons”

News  

Friday, August 10, 2018

King County Unveils “Common Sense” Action Plan: Ban “Semi-automatic, High Velocity Weapons”

In a July 23rd op-ed, Joe McDermott, the Council Chair of King County, Washington, introduced a multi-prong “King County Gun Safety Action Plan” aimed at reducing gun violence.

NoFundMe: NRA Protest March Nets $70 in National Fundraising Effort

News  

Friday, August 10, 2018

NoFundMe: NRA Protest March Nets $70 in National Fundraising Effort

Crowd funding is a relatively recent innovation that allows a person or cause to leverage the vast reach of the Internet to raise money for virtually every imaginable purpose. Even small donations of a few ...

Canada: Toronto Mayor Calls for Gun Bans, Ontario Premier Targets Criminals

News  

Friday, August 10, 2018

Canada: Toronto Mayor Calls for Gun Bans, Ontario Premier Targets Criminals

Canadian anti-gun politicians’ campaign to disarm law-abiding citizens continued this week. On Monday, the Canadian press reported on an August 3 letter from Toronto Mayor John Tory to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In the missive, Tory appeared to back ...

NRA Endorses Hyde-Smith for U.S. Senate

News  

Monday, August 13, 2018

NRA Endorses Hyde-Smith for U.S. Senate

FAIRFAX, Va. – The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) announced on Monday its endorsement of Cindy Hyde-Smith to represent Mississippi in the U.S. Senate. 

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.

Adventures in Correlation

News  

Friday, August 10, 2018

Adventures in Correlation

Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut recently linked to a news article about a CDC report on homicides, claiming that “allowing more guns in more places isn’t making us safer. It’s doing the opposite.”

NRA Statement on 3-D Printers and Plastic Firearms

News  

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

NRA Statement on 3-D Printers and Plastic Firearms

FAIRFAX, Va.— Chris W. Cox, executive director, National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, released the following statement on Tuesday:  

Schumer Goes Full Semi-automatic

Gun Laws  

News  

Friday, July 27, 2018

Schumer Goes Full Semi-automatic

Everybody knows you never go full semiautomatic. That is, except Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and his anti-gun comrades. On July 22, the Senate minority leader decided to fear-monger about homemade 3D-printed firearms following a Justice Department settlement that will ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

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.