This week, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that the city of Gary, Indiana could continue its frivolous, politically motivated lawsuit blaming gun manufacturers for the actions of local criminals. The case, City of Gary v. Smith & Wesson, is one of several around the country where the wheels of justice are grinding slowly, as gun makers try to get the courts to enforce the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) of 2005, which requires courts to dismiss this type of case.
The Indiana court held that the city's lawsuit fell within an exception in the PLCAA. The federal law allows suits against manufacturers or dealers who violate laws "applicable to" gun sales. That exception was obviously intended to allow suits over much more specific violations than those claimed by the city, which is suing under a broad "public nuisance" law.
The decision ignores Congress's intent to block this kind of lawsuit. During congressional debate on the PLCAA, Senators Larry Craig, (R-ID), and Lindsay Graham, (R-SC), specifically cited the Gary case as one that should be dismissed under the new law. The industry plans on appealing to the Indiana Supreme Court, where a decision is likely months away.
The lengthy proceedings in this case (Gary filed its suit in 1999) demonstrate that gun makers and gun owners face determined enemies. Regardless of congressional intent, the politicians and anti-gun activists who bring these suits will continue trying to wear down the industry in a legal war of attrition.