New York to Sue Gun Industry

June 20, 2000|From Reuters

New York City plans to sue the firearms industry today, charging it with creating a public nuisance by selling products that end up being used in crimes, officials said Monday.

New York's lawsuit, which would add the largest city in the United States to the list of 30 cities and counties that have sued gun makers, is expected to be filed in federal court today, a city lawyer said.

New York's lawsuit will say the firearms industry's selling practices create a public nuisance by allowing guns to be sold in an illegitimate secondary market where they fall into the hands of criminals.

"We're also saying that they have failed or refuse to design safer guns and that they have created a wall of deniability by avoiding monitoring the downstream path of their product," said Lorna Goodman, a senior attorney for the city's Corporation Counsel.

Goodman said the lawsuit will seek an injunction against gun manufacturers to "abate the nuisance they have created." She said the city will seek compensatory damages for the cost of fighting crimes committed with firearms and for the cost of treating gun-related injuries.

The city will also seek unspecified punitive damages.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents 1,800 gun manufacturers, distributors and retailers, said if the lawsuit's allegations prove to be similar to those by other cities and counties, they are without merit.

"We believe the cases have no merit and they are politically motivated," said Lawrence Keane, the foundation's general counsel. Keane said it was difficult to comment fully without seeing the lawsuit.

In May, gun manufacturers broke off talks aimed at a settlement in liability lawsuits filed against them by cities and counties around the country. It was reported the companies were hoping Texas Gov. George W. Bush, a Republican supportive of gun owners' rights, would win the presidential election in November and usher in an administration sympathetic to gun manufacturers.

New York City's crime rate has dropped to its lowest level in decades during the administration of Republican Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. Recently, however, violent crime has increased in the city.

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