NOVEMBER 1999

Monday, November 1st, 1999

In Cincinnati, Ohio, a state judge on October 7 dismissed the city’s lawsuit against the firearms industry, saying the city was improperly asking a court to change the way guns are designed, marketed and distributed, something only a legislature could do.
The decision, rendered by Judge Robert P. Ruehlman, was the first dismissal of one of the lawsuits brought against gun manufacturers by 28 cities and counties over the past year, according to lawyers for the firearms industry.
Judge Ruehlman said the city’s claims were vague, unsupported by the evidence and “an improper attempt to have this court substitute its judgment for that of the legislature.”
Cincinnati had based its suit largely on the charge that gun makers had failed to incorporate sufficient safety devices, like trigger locks. However, Judge Ruehlman ruled that guns are legal products and that the manufacturer could not be held liable when the guns functioned as intended, even if they are used to kill people.
Reacting to the decision by Judge Robert R. Ruehlman in the Cincinnati case, CCRKBA Chairman Alan M. Gottlieb, Founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, predicted “that this will be only the first in a series of dismissals against these reckless lawsuits against legal firearm companies selling a lawful product to licensed dealers in interstate commerce. Now that the first domino has fallen, it is time to take the offensive and sue the cities and other culpable organizations for violation of civil rights, conspiracy and other unconstitutional acts.”
Gottlieb said the cities and counties “don’t expect to win these frivolous cases, but they do intend to bankrupt a legal industry by forcing them to expend all their monies in the courts.” He said pro-gun forces “will have no trouble proving damages, since one gun maker is in bankruptcy and now Colt has sent out a letter indicating that they are no longer producing the vast majority of their handgun line and raised prices on others.”
The Colt memo, faxed to distributors and now posted on the Internet, states, “we have to face the harsh reality of the significant impact which our litigation defense costs are having on our ability to operate competitively in the marketplace … Due to the continued escalation of our litigation costs … the prices of these products will be increased six percent effective immediately.”
Calling the Colt memo “the smoking gun proving that the lawsuits are designed to bankrupt a legal industry,” Gottlieb charged “the goal is to end gun ownership by ending the production of new firearms, thus freezing the supply in circulation.”
In Northern Virginia, Democrats are focusing their campaign for General Assembly seats in this month’s elections on guns in schools, an issue which they predict will bring suburban parents to the polls to help them defeat a group of Republican incumbents.
According to The Washington Post, these Democrats are “hammering these GOP legislators for supporting a measure that would have allowed students to keep rifles and other guns locked in their car trunks on school grounds so they could go hunting after class…
“After studying polling data identifying guns on school property as a potentially decisive issue, challengers are relentlessly pursuing it in mailers, phone calls, political forums and door-to-door campaigning. It has become an issue in the majority of House races in Northern Virginia where there are Republican incumbents, and in some Senate races as well.
“The Democrats invoke images of Columbine and other school massacres, saying easy access to guns could lead to similar incidents. Two Democratic candidates called news conferences featuring the mother of a student killed last year in an Arkansas school shooting…
“Republican incumbents say their challengers are campaigning on a nonissue and misinterpreting the legislative vote…
“Del. Richard H. Black of Loudoun and other Republicans who supported the gun measure said that Democrats are distorting the proposal’s impact and that it was designed to help rural parts of the state where students often go hunting after class. Black said that it would not have led to Columbine-style violence and that Republicans have come forward with more effective crime fighting measures.”
“Republicans, including Texas Gov. George W. Bush, had better pray no deranged gunman shoots up a school or church next fall,” states nationally syndicated columnist Morton Kondracke, Editor of Roll Call. “Gun control is an issue poised to clobber the GOP in 2000.
“In a presidential debate, if Mr. Bush tries to repeat his line after the Wedgwood Baptist Church shooting that ‘government can’t remove evil from the human heart’- his Democratic rival can say, ‘Yes, Governor, but it can remove the instrument of evil from the human hand.’
“And Democrats can run ads especially in suburban districts charging that when Republicans had a chance to put modest curbs on gun shows, they balked.
“Every poll indicates the public supports the strict handgun control measures recommended by Democratic presidential candidates Al Gore and Bill Bradley, which exceed by miles those being rejected by the GOP Congress.
“The Gore-Bradley proposal to require all handgun owners to register their firearms was favored by a margin of 75 to 24 percent in a September poll by TNS Intersearch.
“According to a CBS News poll in August, 79 percent would favor requiring all gun buyers to pass a safety course and obtain a photo license before purchasing a gun.”