The gun industry won a major court victory yesterday when a jury in Brooklyn decided that marketing practices of 45 gun manufacturers and distributors were not responsible for gun violence in minority communities in New York City. The jury, which was serving in an advisory role, did not reach a verdict on 23 other defendants.
The federal jury deliberated for four days. The New York Times noted that the plaintiff, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, had gained access to sealed government data tracing the sales of guns that may have been used in crimes.
Even if the companies lose in subsequent rulings, the case could be rendered moot by pending federal legislation that would retroactively shield the gun industry from most lawsuits. The bill passed the House of Representatives last month and is before the Senate.
The verdict followed nearly six weeks of testimony. the case was filed in 1999 and followed similar lawsuits by two dozen cities and counties asserting that the practices of the gun industry amount to a public nuisance because they permit guns to fall into criminal hands.
The suit does not seek damages for the cost of gun violence but rather an injunction that would create restrictions on the distribution and marketing of handguns.