Federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act Does Not Stop Gary, Indiana Lawsuit Against Gun Makers

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a lawsuit by the city of Gary against several gun makers can go to trial.

The court ruled 3-0 that a provision in the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 does not bar the case from going forward in state court. The federal law grants the industry broad protections from municipalities and victims seeking damages for gun-related violence.

Gary's lawsuit, filed in 1999, alleged that 16 gun makers and six Northern Indiana gun dealers sold guns they knew would end up in criminals' hands.

The Court of Appeals cited a prior ruling by the Indiana Supreme Court that said Indiana's public nuisance laws could apply to the city of Gary's claims and found that the federal law did not bar the city from taking legal action.

The federal law seeks to prevent lawsuits that try to use the judicial system to circumvent the legislative branch. But Gary's claim rests on state law passed by the Indiana legislature, the court noted.

It also cited an exception to the immunity provisions of the federal law that allows certain cases to go forward if plaintiffs can show that the manufacturers knowingly violated a statute applicable to the sale and marketing of firearms.

A Lake County judge dismissed the Gary case in 2001, saying the city cannot fault businesses beyond its jurisdiction for others' crimes. . . .



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