DECEMBER 1998

Tuesday, December 1st, 1998

Anti-gunners in New York State lost no time in continuing their assault on gun rights.
“Elected officials throughout New York State should be warned by the voters’ resounding repudiation of Senator Alphonse D’Amato, who remained in the grip of National Rifle Association extremists to the bitter end,” wrote Nancy Regaldo of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence in THE NEW YORK TIMES for November 10.
“Mr. D’Amato voted against the Brady Bill, which sought to prevent convicted criminals from buying guns; he voted against the assault-gun ban, against trigger locks and against protecting doctors and patients at health care clinics. Now New Yorkers have voted against him and for Charles E. Schumer, who led the way on all these bills.
“The N.R.A. must not retain its stranglehold over Albany (the State Capital). An overwhelming majority of the state’s voters wants sensible laws to reduce gun violence. The voters want legislation requiring gun owners to lock up their weapons. They want Gov. George E. Pataki to sign the bill passed by the Legislature that raises penalties on illegal gun trafficking.”

In New Orleans, Louisiana, Mayor Marc H. Morial filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit October 30 against leading gun companies and trade groups, saying they should be held financially responsible for the cost of handgun violence.
The suit was designed to entangle gun manufacturers in the same sort of litigation that has cost the tobacco industry billions of dollars and forced tobacco companies into battle in courtrooms across the country, reported THE WASHINGTON POST. Although the suit was brought in the city’s name, it was backed by anti-gun activists and prepared by some of the same lawyers who attacked the tobacco companies.
Declaring that the gun industry’s “day of atonement” has arrived, Morial and others called for other city and state governments across the country to follow New Orleans’ lead in taking to court the manufacturers of handguns.
“Guns must now become the next tobacco,” said Dennis Henigan, a lawyer in the case who works for the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence.
Jack Adkins of the American Shooting Sports Council called the New Orleans case “litigation tyranny promoted by the trial lawyers and advocacy groups using the courts to try to establish public policy.” The Council, a defendant in the case, represents more than 350 gun makers, distributors and retailers.
“The firearms industry is not the tobacco industry,” said Adkins, indicating that when firearms are “used responsibly and legally, the benefits far outweigh the cost of their misuse.”
Among the defendants are Smith & Wesson Corporation, Sturm Ruger, Beretta USA Corporation, Colt’s Manufacturing Company, Glock Inc., Taurus International Marketing Inc., Sigarms Inc., Lorcin Engineering Company, Bryco Arms, B. L. Jennings Firearms Inc., Phoenix Arms, Davis Industries Inc., Navegar Inc., Arms Technology Inc., and several trade groups and New Orleans pawn shops where guns are sold.

“What industry will be next?” asked Steven P. Gilchrist of Bethpage, New York in a NEW YORK TIMES letter responding to the New Orleans anti-gun lawsuit. “Will cities sue the auto industry to recover money they have spent on improving emergency trauma care or salaries for police, emergency medical technicians, 911 operators or ambulance personnel who respond to accidents?”

“Gail H. Hoffman, a former aide to Attorney General Janet Reno and legislative director of Handgun Control, Inc., has a client that fits into her long-standing worries about handguns,” reports Bill McAllister in THE WASHINGTON POST. “Hoffman, who runs the Hoffman Group,” he continues, “is representing Saf-T-Hammer, a Scottsdale, Arizona company that has devised a removable hammer that can disable a handgun that has an external hammer.
“Hoffman, who was Reno’s director of public liaison and intergovernmental affairs, is out to convince Congress that any proposal for requiring a safety device or lock on handguns should include the Arizona invention, which is not in production yet.”

In Massachusetts, Michael Yacino, Executive Director of the Gun Owners’ Action League, announced that a coalition of pro-gun individuals, groups and businesses filed a lawsuit to overturn the Bay State’s newly enacted anti-gun law.
Yacino said “this law is too vague to understand, too obscure to enforce, and too unintelligible to obey.”
The suit charges the new law would “punish with draconian, mandatory prison terms but does not sufficiently define, the innocent possession and transfer of sporting firearms which the Act characterizes as ‘large capacity weapons,’ ‘assault weapons,’ and ‘large capacity feeding devices.’ The provisions are vague, violate the rights to due process and equal protection, violate the rights to free speech and to freedom of association, and are otherwise inconsistent with the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”