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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 8, No. 33 8/17/2001



Last week was even more devastating to the litigious agenda of anti-gun extremists than originally reported. The week opened on Monday, August 6, with the California Supreme Court`s overwhelming 5-1 rejection of an anti-gun, reckless lawsuit that had been spearheaded by the gun-ban lobby formerly known as HCI—a staggering loss for Sarah Brady`s group we covered in last week`s Alert. The week closed on Friday with the dismissal of New York State`s reckless lawsuit against the law-abiding gun industry, a decision handed down after we had gone to press. The California decision put a halt to the gun-ban lobby`s attempt to hold a gun maker responsible for the despicable acts of a lone madman, while the New York case is one of several suits filed by anti-gun politicians who are trying to convince the courts that the firearms industry should literally pay for every criminal or negligent act that involves a firearm, even when the industry is in full compliance with the law.

The New York suit was pushed, at taxpayer expense, by New York`s anti-gun Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer tried to argue that firearm manufacturers and distributors should be held responsible for the actions of violent criminals—even though they comply with the thousands of laws and regulatory standards that dictate how firearms are manufactured, distributed, and sold. But acting Supreme Court Justice Louis B. York dismissed Spitzer`s allegation that the legal manufacture and distribution of handguns constitutes a public nuisance. Justice York stated that the "parties most directly responsible ... are the individuals who unlawfully misuse them [handguns], i.e. criminals. But for their conduct, the nuisance alleged here would not exist." York ruled in People v. Sturm, Ruger & Company, the court`s approval of Spitzer`s novel theory would have the unwanted "effect of preventing defendants from engaging in activities, i.e., the manufacture and sale of guns, that they are permitted to engage in by law in an area which is strongly controlled by various federal and state statutes."

We can anticipate Spitzer will appeal last week`s ruling, but the next stop in his quest to wipe out the production and distribution of a lawful, constitutionally- protected product, is the New York Court of Appeals. That court already rejected a similar reckless lawsuit earlier this year, ruling in Hamilton v. Accu-Tek that firearm manufacturers cannot be held liable when their legally produced, legally distributed, non-defective products are used by violent criminals.


It seems that judicial defeats for the gun-ban movement are following the old saying, "When it rains, it pours." The latest string of court losses for anti-gunners began in Arizona two weeks ago, on August 3, when the City of Tucson was ordered to pay $22,375.32 in attorneys` fees resulting from a challenge to a city policy regarding gun shows that was struck down because it violated Arizona`s statewide preemption law. Last week`s California and New York rulings quickly followed, and this week, we are back in Arizona. On Tuesday, the Arizona Superior Court, Pima County, rejected another attempt to hold a gun maker responsible for the actions of violent, predatory criminals. The suit arose from the 1999 murder of two employees during the robbery of a Tucson Pizza Hut. Christopher Huerstel and Kajornsak Prasertphong were convicted of the murders and sentenced to death, but the families of the murder victims, aided by attorneys that work closely with anti-gun organizations, filed a civil suit that included Glock, Inc., Centerfire, Inc. (a Tucson gun store), and McMann`s Roadrunner ( a gun show promoter) as defendants. The court dismissed the suit, ruling, in essence, that you can`t hold law-abiding gun makers and distributors accountable for the actions of criminals.



America`s gun owners lost a true friend yesterday, when U.S. Representative Floyd Spence (R-S.C.) passed away. Rep. Spence had been in critical condition since last Thursday, when he underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain. NRA extends its sympathies to his friends and family during their time of grief.


After President Bush took office in January, many people began wondering if he would be able to make good on his promise of a tax refund. Now that he has, people are wondering what to do with it. Pro-gun U.S. Representative Bob Schaffer (R-Colo.) has one suggestion. Schaffer told The Hill that one thing he will do with his refund will be "renew my NRA membership...." Sound advice. Of course, if you have already renewed your membership, you can always buy a membership for a pro-gun family member or friend who has not yet joined NRA, take a non-gun owner to the range to introduce him to the shooting sports, or make a much-needed contribution to NRA-ILA to support our legislative action programs.



Congress remains on its August/Labor Day recess until September 3 for the U.S. Senate, and September 4 for the U.S. House. As we`ve encouraged before, please continue to contact your lawmakers` district offices and ask if or when they plan to hold town hall meetings during the August recess. If you do not know the number for your lawmakers` district offices, you can use the "Write Your Reps" tool at www.NRAILA.org, or call the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683.

In addition to attending meetings and speaking out in support of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms, please forward the dates, times, and locations of any town hall meetings to your family members and friends who support the Second Amendment, and to the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division, so we may share this information with the pro-gun community. Please forward this information to the Grassroots Division by calling our toll-free number, faxing to (703) 267-3918, or by sending an e-mail to [email protected]. You can find listings of the town hall meetings we know about by going to our Event Calendar



The Department of Public Safety has granted interested parties an extension for submitting written comments on proposed rules for New Mexico`s new Right to Carry law. The deadline for submissions is now Thursday, August 23, at 5:00 p.m. Copies of the proposed rules, and information on where to send comments, are available on the DPS website, or by calling DPS at (505) 827-9000.


This Tuesday, August 21, is primary election day in Virginia. NRA members are encouraged to head to the polls to exercise their constitutional right to 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.