Gun Control Group Plans to Challenge Protections for Gun Industry

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

( - The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill that would restrict lawsuits against gun makers and gun sellers for the criminal misuse of their products. But even before the voting begins, a gun control group announced it would challenge the measure on constitutional grounds.

The Senate passed the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" in July, and the House is expected to follow suit.

The National Rifle Association says the bill will stop "meritless, reckless lawsuits" that are filed with the goal of bankrupting the gun industry.

But lawyers at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence call the bill a "special interest extravaganza" that threatens the rights of "gun victims."

The Brady Center, which has filed a number of negligence/nuisance lawsuits against the gun industry, said Congress can pass the bill, the president can sign it, but "this shameful law will not stand."

Dennis Henigan, director of the Brady Center's Legal Action Project, called the bill "an unprecedented attack on the due process rights of victims injured by the misconduct of an industry that seeks to escape the legal rules that govern the rest of us. We believe state and federal courts across this nation are prepared to strike it down."

Brady Center lawyers have nine pending lawsuits against gun sellers and manufacturers, in which they represent individual crime victims as well as cities seeking to recover the cost of crimes involving guns.(The cases are pending in the states of Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, North Carolina and in the District of Columbia.)

The first of the nine cases, a lawsuit brought against the gun industry by New York City, is scheduled to go to trial in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., on November 28. The suit charges the gun industry with contributing to a public nuisance in New York City by selling guns through retail dealers who facilitate gun trafficking.

The Brady Center anticipates that the defendants in those pending lawsuits will try to have their cases dismissed once the bill becomes law.

Second Amendment supporters say the New York City lawsuit and others like it are nothing more than back-door gun control.

See Earlier Stories:
Gun Control Group Files New Lawsuits to Make A Point (28 July 2005)
Senate Okays Gun Maker Protection Bill (29 July 2005)

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