Aside from the fact that they do more for the shooting sports (attracting new shooters, protecting shooting ranges, being the governing body for many competitions, training, match sponsorship, etc.) than any other group I know of, they’re the 800lb. gorilla of gun-rights legislation. Most recently, the NRA was instrumental in the passage of the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
For those unfamiliar, this law was written to protect gun manufacturers and distributors against nuisance lawsuits brought by anti-gun-rights forces who sought to kill the industry by bleeding it to death in the courts – or by scoring a victory with a judge willing to legislate from the bench. These lawsuits were brought in many states, and often made it to the appeals court level before being thrown out. Here are some opinions from such dismissals:
In the view of this Court, the City’s complaint is an improper attempt to have this Court substitute its judgment for that of the legislature, which this Court is neither inclined nor empowered to do.
In substance, the City and its Mayor opt to engage in efforts at arbitrary social reform by invoking the process of the Judicial Branch of Government, where apparently the City perceives, but fails to allege, irreversible failures in the appropriate Legislative Branch(s) of Government….The City should not be permitted to invoke the jurisdiction of this Court to overlay or supplement existing civil and criminal ‘gun’ statutes and processes (either state and federal) by means of a series of judicial fiats which, when taken together, would only create a body of ‘judge made gun laws’. – Special Judge James J. Richards, Lake Superior Court, County of Lake, City of Gary v. Smith & Wesson, Cause No. 45D05-005-CT-243, slip op. 7 (Ind. Super. Ct. Jan. 12, 2001).
The County’s request that the trial court use its injunctive powers to mandate redesign of firearms and declare that the appellees’ business methods create a public nuisance, is an attempt to regulate firearms and ammunition through the medium of the judiciary…. The County’s frustration cannot be alleviated through litigation as the judiciary is not empowered to ‘enact’ regulatory measures in the guise of injunctive relief. The power to legislate belongs not to the judicial branch of government but to the legislative branch. – Judge J.J. Fletcher, District Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District, Penelas v. Arms Technology, Inc., 778 So.2d 1042, 1045
Although this public nuisance lawsuit is brought by the Attorney General on behalf of the State of New York – while the Hamilton action was one initiated by private parties for negligent marketing – both were brought against handgun manufacturers and sellers. Plaintiffs attempt here to widen the range of common-law public nuisance claims in order to reach the legal handgun industry will not itself, if successful, engender a limitless number of public nuisance lawsuits by individuals against these particular defendants, as was a stated concern in Hamilton (96 NY2d at 233). However, giving a green light to a common-law public nuisance cause of action today will, in our judgment, likely open the courthouse doors to a flood of limitless, similar theories of public nuisance, not only against these defendants, but also against a wide and varied array of other commercial and manufacturing enterprises and activities.
All a creative mind would need to do is construct a scenario describing a known or perceived harm of a sort that can somehow be said to relate back to the way a company or an industry makes, markets and/or sells its non-defective, lawful product or service, and a public nuisance claim would be conceived and a lawsuit born. A variety of such lawsuits would leave the starting gate to be welcomed into the legal arena to run their cumbersome course, their vast cost and tenuous reasoning notwithstanding. Indeed, such lawsuits employed to address a host of societal problems would be invited into the courthouse whether the problems they target are real or perceived; whether the problems are in some way caused by, or perhaps merely preceded by, the defendants completely lawful business practices; regardless of the remoteness of their actual cause or of their foreseeability; and regardless of the existence, remoteness, nature and extent of any intervening causes between defendants lawful commercial conduct and the alleged harm. – from the appeals court decision upholding the dismissal of New York v. Sturm Ruger et. al.
Knives are sharp, bowling balls are heavy, bullets cause puncture wounds in flesh. The law has long recognized that obvious dangers are an excluded class. Were we to decide otherwise, we would open a Pandora’s box.
The city could sue the manufacturers of matches for arson, or automobile manufacturers for traffic accidents, or breweries for drunken driving. Guns are dangerous. When someone pulls the trigger, whether intentionally or by accident, a properly functioning gun is going to discharge, and someone may be killed. The risks of guns are open and obvious.
We hold that the trial court properly dismissed the city’s complaint. The city’s claims are too remote and seek derivatively what should be claimed only by citizens directly injured by firearms. The city cannot recover municipal costs. We overrule its assignment of error and affirm the judgment of the trial court. – Judge Ralph Winkler, Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals in the decision upholding dismissal of Cincinnati’s lawsuit.
That last one is my favorite. However, getting to this point was expensive for the defendants. The plaintiffs, of course, were on the taxpayer’s dime, and we all know those pockets are bottomless.
Well, on Monday U.S. District Judge Audrey B. Collins threw out the lawsuit brought by the city of Los Angeles against Glock based on the passage of the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act:
Judge tosses gun suit
New federal law protects makers
LOS ANGELES – A new ban on lawsuits against gun makers caused a Los Angeles judge to toss out negligence claims the family of a slain mail carrier filed against Glock and a gun distributor, court papers showed Friday.
Monterey Park resident Joseph Ileto was gunned down by white supremacist Buford Furrow, who came upon the Philippines-born letter carrier as he was delivering mail in Chatsworth on Aug. 10, 1999.
Shortly before shooting Ileto, Furrow opened fire at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills, wounding three children, a receptionist and a teenage camp counselor.
In a federal suit filed in May 2001, Ileto’s family accused Glock of creating an illegal secondary market for its guns, and of being a public nuisance.
The family also accused Glock of failing to heed a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives list of gun distributors and dealers who supply guns used in crimes.
Last October, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which bars suits against firearms companies by the victims of shootings.
In a court hearing on Monday, U.S. District Judge Audrey B. Collins said the law applies retroactively to the suit filed by the mail carrier’s family.
In a two-sentence order made available Friday, Collins officially granted Glock and distributor RSR Group’s motion for judgment in their favor in the case.
One for the good guys, right? But there’s this:
It appears the family’s case can move forward against the maker of Norinco guns, China North Industries Corp., because the law only applies to firearm companies that were federally licensed. China North was not licensed, according to a lawyer for the family.
The attorney for the family could not be immediately reached to comment on the judge’s ruling.
I’m sure they’re huddled with the Brady Bunch’s lawyers. Good luck on collecting from the Chinese government, which owns China North and every other gun manufacturer on the mainland.
Furrow, a former mental patient with a second-degree assault conviction on his record, had six guns in his possession at the time of the shooting, including a Glock 9 mm handgun, a Norinco short-barreled rifle and a Bushmaster rifle.
He reportedly got around his record by purchasing at least one of the 9 mm weapons at a gun show in Washington state.
Furrow is serving a life prison sentence without the possibility of parole. In February 2003, he was ordered to pay $175,000 to Ileto’s family.
This week’s ruling in the suit over Ileto’s death is only the latest step in the case’s long history.
In 2003, a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel overturned a lower court’s decision to toss out the Ileto family’s suit.
So he used the eeeevil gunshow loophole to buy “at least” one gun. Did he buy them ALL “off paper” through want-ads? Or was he able to buy from a licensed dealer by lying on the Form 4473 and passing the background check? Was he ever one of the hundreds of thousands of people we’re told are “stopped” by the background check, but are never apprehended? Never even pursued?
And note, it was the 9th Circus that reinstated the suit after it was originally dismissed – dismissed probably with language very much like that I’ve quoted above.
But here’s the thing I think most people don’t know: Furrow’s 9mm Glock came from a police department. We can all trust the Violence Policy Center, right? Here it is, straight from their site:
The Glock pistol that self-proclaimed racist Buford Furrow used to kill a Los Angeles postal worker illustrates the deadly consequences of the Austrian gun company’s hyper-aggressive marketing to U.S. police, according to the Violence Policy Center. The Model 26, 9mm semiautomatic “pocket rocket” was sold first to the Cosmopolis, Wash., police department, which resold it to a civilian dealer.
You can read the whole press release where they try to blame Glock for Furrow’s actions, but the key is that the gun came originally from a police department.
So why wasn’t that department just as liable as Glock? Why wasn’t it a party to the lawsuit? Glock sold the gun to the department, the department sold the gun to a licensed dealer, the dealer sold it to someone (apparently not Furrow), and Furrow bought it from someone down the food chain. Glock was at least four steps up the chain of possession, but it’s their fault this wacko got a Model 26 and five other weapons?
That law HAD to be passed. I, for one, am glad for the NRA, because without them, it never would have been.