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6/14/2005

More reasons why the reckless suits against gun makers should be reigned in

This is a useful article from the Buffalo news, and the whole piece is worth a read.

Wal-Mart last year settled a California lawsuit alleging widespread violations of gun laws for $14.5 million.
The California suit said Wal-Mart stores sold guns to convicted felons and ammunition to minors, and allowed buyers to pick up guns before criminal background checks were complete.

Gun control advocates called the settlement an important victory over one of the nation's major firearms retailers.

But in the ongoing legal war over gun violence and gun control, the Wal-Mart case was one small skirmish.

Large-scale attempts to blame firearms makers for gun violence in American cities have failed. Class-action lawsuits seeking billions of dollars from manufacturers get shot down in courts all over the nation.

Since 1998, at least 33 communities - including New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia and Cincinnati - filed suits against gun makers, accusing them of marketing a product that endangers the public.

Most of the suits were dismissed. A handful are pending, including one New York City filed five years ago. . . .

The National Rifle Association agrees, calling the lawsuits a reckless attempt by "anti-gun zealots" to put law-abiding companies out of business.

"The lawsuits failed because you can't blame a company for somebody who misuses a product that functions properly," said Joyce L. Malcolm, a history professor and gun rights supporter from Bentley College near Boston. "Blaming the gun industry for the actions of criminals is like blaming a company that makes sleeping pills for someone who commits suicide. It isn't right."

Even New York Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer got beat five years ago, when he accused gun makers and distributors of doing nothing to prevent unlawful handgun trafficking.

"(Gun makers) know that a significant portion of their guns become crime guns, but turn a blind eye so as to increase their profits, at a cost of many human lives," Spitzer argued. "New York is flooded with a huge volume of illegal guns that are used in violent crime." . . .

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