Second Amendment Foundation Hails New Orleans Decision, Vows To Pursue Lawsuit Against Mayors

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2001

BELLEVUE, WA – As New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial vowed to appeal the Louisiana Supreme Court’s dismissal of the city’s lawsuit against the firearms industry, the Second Amendment Foundation announced today it will “vigorously push forward” with its own legal action against Morial, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“Dismissal of the New Orleans lawsuit is a great victory, not only for the firearms industry, but especially law-abiding gun owners and consumers, whose firearms civil rights are being seriously threatened by such litigation,” said SAF spokesman Dave Workman. “The court’s 5-2 ruling solidly affirms our contention that these anti-gun lawsuits, filed by Mayor Morial and others, are nothing more than frivolous attempts to grab headlines, and infringe on the rights of all citizens to keep and bear arms while driving the firearms industry out of business.”

On Nov. 30, 1999, SAF, the nation’s oldest and largest firearms civil rights legal defense, research, publishing and educational organization, filed a federal lawsuit in Washington, DC against the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and 24 individual mayors, including Morial, for conspiracy to violate civil and constitution rights, including the First, Second and Ninth Amendments, as well as the creation of undue burden on lawful interstate commerce.

That action was initially dismissed without prejudice – meaning that the lawsuit could be re-filed – and SAF is currently appealing. Oral arguments are set for September before a three-judge panel.

Workman, SAF’s senior editor, said the ruling bolsters the organization’s position, and amounts to “one more encouraging signal from the courts that firearms civil rights will eventually prevail.”

“The Louisiana Supreme Court has strengthened our resolve,” Workman said. “We’re going to pursue our lawsuit against the mayors, including Mayor Morial, because, as indicated by the court’s decision, it is the right thing to do.”

Courts have rejected several similar lawsuits in recent months, including those filed by mayors in Chicago, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Bridgeport, Gary and Miami-Dade.

The Court’s dismissal of the New Orleans complaint was significant because Morial was the first metropolitan mayor to file a gun industry lawsuit, in October 1998, seeking financial restitution from gun makers for the costs of criminal violence in their cities. That action opened a floodgate, with similar legal actions filed by some 30 other cities. However, that floodgate abruptly closed when SAF took direct legal action against individual mayors and the USCM. Only Philadelphia and Washington, DC mayors have filed lawsuits since the SAF went to court, and Philadelphia’s action has already been dismissed.

Morial’s vow to seek a re-hearing of his case before the Louisiana high court brought a sharp response from Workman: “Perhaps it is time for the good citizens of New Orleans to ask Mayor Morial why he persists in squandering their money and wasting their legal resources on what amounts to a personal vendetta against a perfectly legal and legitimate industry, and law-abiding firearms owners who have a constitutional right to the goods and services that industry provides.”

In its sharply-worded decision, the Court said that the lawsuit infringed on the state legislature’s exclusive authority to regulate firearms in Louisiana. The majority opinion said “A scheme allowing several municipalities to file suits effectively attempting to regulate the firearms industry in different ways and in different degrees could conceivably threaten the public safety and welfare by resulting in haphazard and inconsistent rules governing firearms in Louisiana.”

Twenty-four states have adopted similar preemption statutes, and Indiana may soon join that list. While similar lawsuits have been thrown out by state courts, this is the first such case to have been rejected by a state supreme court.

“If Mayor Morial doesn’t get the message being sent to him by the state’s highest court,” Workman stated, “maybe he should just get out of the mayor’s office.”

The Second Amendment Foundation is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms.. Current projects include a damage action lawsuit against the cities suing gun makers, an amicus brief in support of the Emerson case holding that the Second Amendment is an individual right and a lawsuit in Cincinnati supporting the right of self-defensive carry.