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Firearms Industry Wins Another Court Victory; Dismissal of Spitzer's Lawsuit Against Industry Upheld by N.Y. Appellate Court

6/25/03

Contact: Lawrence G. Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, 203-426-1320; web: http://www.HSSHF.org

NEWTOWN, Conn., June 25 /U.S. Newswire/ -- In another significant legal victory for the firearms industry, a New York appellate court on Tuesday upheld a trial court's August, 2001 order dismissing a lawsuit brought by New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer against gun makers. The appellate court said manufacturers of lawful and non-defective products cannot be sued for allegedly creating a "public nuisance" when criminals misuse firearms. The appellate court acknowledged what the firearms industry has maintained all along -- "that courts are the least suited, least equipped, and thus the least appropriate branch of government to regulate and micro-manage the manufacturing, marketing, distribution and sale of handguns."

"We are extremely pleased and gratified that the appeals court has found that Attorney General Spitzer's politically motivated lawsuit lacks any legal merit, precisely what other courts around the county have concluded in dismissing similar 'junk' lawsuits filed against our industry," said Lawrence G. Keane, the National Shooting Sports Foundation's vice president and general counsel. "These lawsuits are nothing more than an attempt to circumvent Congress and state legislatures to impose through litigation an extreme anti-gun agenda repeatedly rejected by Congress and the American people."

The Appellate Court expressed well-founded fear that giving the green light to a common-law public nuisance cause of action will "likely open the courthouse doors to a flood of limitless, similar theories of public nuisance, not only against (gun makers), but also against a wide and varied array of other commercial and manufacturing enterprises and activities." The court also stated, "Such an explosion of litigation would inappropriately engulf the courts beyond their means in issues which the legislative and executive branches are vastly better designed, equipped and funded to address."

Despite a string of recent courtroom victories for the firearms industry, attorneys and groups seeking to drive the industry out of business continue to file suits based on the actions of criminals. Congress has moved to block these types of frivolous suits with legislation.

"This case is another clear example as to why the Senate should follow the House and pass the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and prevent further manipulation of the judicial system by those seeking to circumvent the legislative process," said Keane.

Last month in a case brought by the NAACP before Brooklyn, NY, federal court judge Jack B. Weinstein, an "advisory jury" refused to find any of 68 firearms industry defendants liable for creating a "public nuisance" in New York. Judge Weinstein has yet to finally decide the case and is free to reject the "advisory" jury's finding. "Judge Weinstein should follow both the advisory jury's conclusion and this decision by one of the leading appellate courts in the nation and immediately dismiss the NAACP case," said Keane.

NOTE TO EDITORS: A copy of the New York Appellate Court's decision is available on the NSSF Web site at http://www.hsshf.org/share/legal/docs/062403NY.pdf.


http://www.usnewswire.com/
 
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