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Illinois General Assembly And Supreme Court<br>Deliver Victories For Right To Keep And Bear Arms

Friday, November 19, 2004

It was an excellent week for the pro-gun movement in Illinois, as the General Assembly overrode Governor Rod Blagojevich`s (D) veto of pro-gun legislation, and the Supreme Court dismissed Chicago`s reckless lawsuit against gun manufacturers.

On Tuesday, November 16, the House of Representatives voted 85-30 (71 votes needed) to override Blagojevich`s veto of SB 2165, which followed last week`s successful override vote in the Senate. SB 2165, which became law shortly after the vote, provides an affirmative defense for a gun owner if he uses a firearm prohibited by local ordinance in defense of himself or others. This legislation was inspired by the outrageous prosecution of Hale DeMar—a man in Wilmette, Illinois, who was forced to use a handgun to defend himself and his family against a convicted criminal who had broken into his home for the second time in as many nights. Apparently ignoring the will of the General Assembly, the Village of Wilmette has threatened to pass its own ordinance it claims will exempt it from this law, and allow it to continue to persecute citizens who use a handgun in defense of their lives and the lives of their loved ones. We will follow closely any developments on this front.

Following closely on the heels of this legislative victory, the Illinois Supreme Court delivered a judicial victory on Thursday, November 18, when it dismissed a liability lawsuit filed by the city of Chicago against gun manufacturers. Stating there is no legal cause to hold manufacturers responsible for the acts of third party criminals, the court told Chicago and anti-gun Mayor Richard Daley (D), in effect, "It`s the criminals, stupid!" Justice Rita Garmen wrote, "The mere fact that defendants` conduct in their plants, offices, and stores puts guns into the stream of commerce does not state a claim for public nuisance." She went on to say, "It is the presence and use of the guns within the City of Chicago that constitutes the alleged nuisance, not the activities at the defendants` various places of business."

"Today`s decision affirms the argument we have been making since the beginning of these reckless city lawsuits—product manufacturers are not responsible for the actions of criminals," said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox "We applaud the Illinois Supreme Court for upholding common sense in the face of politically motivated lawsuits."

Chicago`s lawsuit was just one of many attempts by anti-gun extremists to bankrupt the American firearm industry with predatory, frivolous litigation, with most courts also throwing out such cases.

Cox added, "These lawsuits seek to undermine our country`s long-standing heritage of firearms ownership. The highest court in Illinois has ruled decisively. Now perhaps Mayor Daley and other big-city politicians can concentrate on the real solution to lower crime—getting criminals off the streets so they no longer pose a threat to our families and businesses."

Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry`s trade association, said of the ruling, "Today`s decision is the latest in a long list of appellate court decisions that have rejected politically motivated ‘junk` lawsuits that have tried to blame the makers of well-made, lawfully sold firearms for the actions of criminals."

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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.