SOURCE: National Shooting Sports Foundation

May 22, 2006 17:43 ET

Washington, D.C. Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against Gun Makers

NEWTOWN, CT -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 22, 2006 -- Citing a recently enacted federal law that blocks civil lawsuits against firearms manufacturers when criminals misuse firearms, Washington, D.C. superior court judge Brook Hedge today threw out a lawsuit against 25 firearms manufacturers, including Accokeek, Maryland-based Beretta U.S.A. Corp., Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Colt and Glock.

The District of Columbia and nine individual plaintiffs originally filed the suit in January 2000.

Judge Hedge ruled that, "Congress has made clear that manufacturers or sellers of firearms or ammunition products that have been shipped or transported in interstate commerce 'are not, and should not, be liable for the harm caused by those who criminally or unlawfully misuse firearm products or ammunition products that function as designed and intended,'" and that, "The imposition of such liability, according to Congress, 'is an abuse of the legal system, erodes public confidence in our Nations laws.'"

Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry's trade association, called today's dismissal a significant and gratifying victory for the rule of law and common sense.

"We are pleased the court properly applied the law as written by Congress," Keane said, adding, "We completely agree with the court that the District's attempt to blame our industry for the criminal misuse of firearm in the District is exactly the type of 'junk' lawsuit Congress and President Bush intended to stop when they enacted the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act."

This is the third case against the gun industry to be dismissed based on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act signed into law by President Bush last October.

In March, Los Angeles-based federal district court judge Audrey B. Collins became the first judge in the nation to dismiss a case based on the new legislation. Collins dismissed a public-nuisance lawsuit filed against Glock and gun distributor RSR by victims and family members of the now infamous "Jewish Daycare Center" shooting in Los Angeles in 1999 by Buford Furrow, a crazed homicidal maniac.

Last Friday, Los Angeles County superior court judge Charles W. Stoll dismissed a case filed on October 18, 2005, against three firearm manufacturers and a distributor following a gang shooting of a Los Angeles police officer during a traffic stop.

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    Lawrence G. Keane