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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 8, No. 17 4/27/2001

Yesterday, the New York Court of Appeals joined the ever-growing list of courts that have rejected reckless lawsuits against gun makers by unanimously ruling that victims of firearm-related violence cannot sue firearm manufacturers for the criminal misuse of a non-defective product (i.e., firearms). The suit, Hamilton v. Accu-Tek, is one of dozens that are heavily supported by the gun-ban lobby, HCI, its "educational" arm the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence (CPHV), and many other anti-gun organizations. These reckless lawsuits are designed to circumvent the legislative process—where the anti-gun community has suffered countless defeats—and harass the firearm industry either into bankruptcy, or into allowing anti-gun organizations or bureaucrats to dictate how gun makers design and market their products. Thursday`s ruling held that firearm manufacturers cannot be held liable when their legally produced, legally distributed, non-defective products are used by violent criminals. The court also stated that "Federal law already has implemented a statutory and regulatory scheme to ensure seller ‘responsibility` through licensing requirements and buyer ‘responsibility` through background checks." Further, the ruling rejected the "reforms" to the firearm industry proposed by the plaintiffs because of a failure to show how such changes in manufacturing or marketing practices would reduce the criminal misuse of firearms, and because the court found the proposed changes would eliminate "a significant number of lawful sales to ‘responsible` buyers by ‘responsible` Federal firearms licensees...." The ruling also concluded that the suit`s demand that manufacturers investigate Federal firearms licensees for possible illegal activity was "neither feasible nor appropriate," noting that "the plaintiffs` own law enforcement experts agreed that the manufacturers should not make any attempt to investigate illegal gun trafficking on their own since such attempts could disrupt pending criminal investigations and endanger the lives of undercover officers." "We are extremely gratified by today`s ruling because the Court recognized that by complying with the extensive statutory and regulatory scheme established by Congress and administered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) federally licensed firearms manufacturers distribute and sell their lawful products in a safe and responsible manner and help to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals," said Robert T. Delfay, president and chief executive officer of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc., the trade association for the firearms industry. "We have long supported law enforcement`s efforts to combat illegal firearms trafficking and cooperate whenever and however we are asked to do so, but, obviously, recognize that we have no law enforcement authority and should not do things that jeopardize those efforts or put law enforcement officers in danger," added Delfay. This is just the latest judicial rejection of reckless lawsuits against gun makers. Courts across the country have been throwing out similar cases—including some filed by a cabal of anti-gun big-city mayors—and this tactic is also being rejected by state legislatures. Just last week, Indiana became the 25th state to enact a law that prohibits municipalities from filing these suits, and Florida (see "A Look At The States") is poised to put us over the half-way point. There is also NRA-backed federal legislation that calls for a national prohibition on reckless lawsuits against the firearm industry—H.R. 123—introduced by U.S. Representative (and NRA Director) Bob Barr (R-Ga.). As the courts and legislatures continue to reject this extortion effort by the anti-gun community, we will continue to keep you updated. URGE YOUR SENATORS TO OPPOSE S. 767 U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.) has introduced S.767, his version of the legislation once pushed by former U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) that sought to end gun shows as we know them today. We also expect U.S. Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) to introduce their "compromise" gun show legislation very soon. And as the Senate has taken up the issue of education reform, we anticipate that Reed and fellow gun-ban extremists such as U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will be working with anti-gun organizations to attach Reed`s assault on gun shows, as well as other anti-gun amendments with no relevance to education reform, to any education legislation brought up for consideration. Contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to oppose the attack on gun shows, as well as any other anti-gun effort. You can reach your U.S. Senators by calling the U.S. Senate switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Just ask for your lawmaker`s office, or give the operator your zip code. Also, for those on the Internet, you can find contact information for your federal lawmakers by using the "Write Your Reps" tool at www.NRAILA.org. ANTI-GUNNERS AND THEIR BRUSHES WITH THE LAW It seems that anti-gun extremists are having all sorts of trouble with the law. Last week we told you about the conviction of Robert Brennan. This week it`s two noted anti-gun U.S. Senators. The April 23 edition of Roll Call revealed that, according to a Federal Election Commission (FEC) audit, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer`s (D-N.Y.) 1998 Senate campaign failed to properly handle its finances. Schumer`s spokespeople shrugged off the FEC report, admitting there were errors, but claiming they were quickly corrected. Another anti-gun U.S. Senator, Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.), is facing an embarrassing investigation of his own. Torricelli has been accused of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in unreported gifts, an allegation first revealed by the New York Times. Apparently the anti-gun community is simply numerically-challenged. After all, the so-called "Million" Mom March didn`t have anywhere near a million moms at last year`s "march"—the One Hundred-Thousand-or-so Mom March would have been a far more accurate name—and HCI President Michael Barnes intentionally misled Congress earlier this year when his testimony implied that 11 children die every day from firearm-related accidents—in fact, there was a total of 121 firearm-related accidents involving children in all of 1998! C-SPAN 2 WILL AIR COLUMBIA COLLEGE CONSERVATIVE CLUB PANEL On April 18, the Columbia College Conservative Club hosted a panel of noted researchers and scholars to discuss the controversial book "Arming America" by Michael Bellesiles. This event was organized to offer a different perspective to the ceremony held the same day where Bellesiles was awarded the Bancroft Award by Columbia University. The panel included Yale professor John Lott—author of "More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws"—Clayton Cramer—author of several historical books, including "For the Defense of Themselves and the State: The Original Intent and Judicial Interpretation of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms"—and attorney Stephen Halbrook—who successfully argued against the constitutionality of the Brady Act before the Supreme Court of the United States. C-SPAN 2 is scheduled to air the award ceremony, followed by the panel discussion, this Sunday, April 29, at 8:50 p.m. EST. A LOOK AT THE STATES CALIFORNIA After moving Assembly Bill 35 (Shelley), the "English Only" Handgun Licensing Bill, off of last Wednesday`s schedule due to pressure created by your phone calls, faxes, and e-mail, the Assembly`s Appropriations Committee has rescheduled a hearing for Wednesday, May 2 (for bill details see FAX Alert Vol. 8, No.16, 4/20/01). Please keep the pressure on by continuing to contact the members of the Appropriations Committee prior to the May 2 hearing and urging them to oppose AB 35. For a complete listing of Committee members and contact information, use the "Write Your Reps" tool at NRAILA.org, or call NRA-ILA Grassroots at 800-392-8683. COLORADO SB 225, which seeks to ban the purchase of handguns by those 18-21 without parental consent, will be considered by the full Senate next Monday. Contrary to statements by the bill`s sponsors, Governor Bill Owens (R) DOES NOT support SB 225 and has said so publicly. Please contact your State Senators at (303) 866-2316 and urge them to oppose SB 225. Also, please call Senators Jim Dyer (303) 866-4884, Alice Nichol (303) 866-4865, John Evans (303) 866-4881 and Norma Anderson (303) 866-4859 and thank them for continuing to oppose SB 225. FLORIDA SB 412, a bill that seeks to protect firearm manufacturers from reckless, politically-motivated lawsuits aimed at bankrupting them, passed the full House on a 78-35 vote. The bill now goes to Governor Jeb Bush`s (R) desk. Contact your lawmakers by phone or e-mail to thank them for supporting SB 412. IOWA SF488, a bill that sought to ban all private firearms transfers unless they went through an FFL, is now dead for the year. Thank you to all members who made calls to their lawmakers. NORTH CAROLINA House Bill 622, a bill that seeks to prohibit municipalities from filing reckless lawsuits against gun makers, passed the House by a vote of 101-16. Also, HB 320, a bill that sought to hold adults criminally responsible if any minor gains access to a firearm and injures or kills another person, and mandate storage requirements, was defeated by the full House on an 83-33 vote. OREGON Republican State Senators have held firm against a number of attempts over the past week to add gun control language to crime- or education-related bills in the Oregon Senate. Contact these Republican Senators on Monday to thank them for their support, and urge them to resist any further attempts to advance gun-control advocates` agenda in this manner. For a list of Republican State Senators and their capitol phone numbers, visit www.leg.state.or.us. TEXAS HB 367, a bill making it a FELONY for anyone other than an FFL to trade or sell a firearm at a gun show, has still not been set for a vote by the full Texas House. Continue calling your State Representative at (512) 463-4630 and urge him to oppose HB 367 if and when it`s scheduled for a vote.


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.