A federal judge yesterday dismissed a lawsuit contending that gun makers are responsible for killings because they allow handguns to be channeled to criminals, the New York Times reported. The case was filed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The judge said New York law required that an organization like the N.A.A.C.P. prove that it suffered particular harm that was different from the harm suffered by the public at large
Judge Jack B. Weinstein of Brooklyn also concluded that carelessness and lack of precautions by some in the firearms industry foster an illegal market in handguns. “The evidence … demonstrated that defendants are responsible for the creation of a public nuisance,” Weinstein said. He added that gun makers and distributors could sharply limit gun violence “voluntarily and through easily implemented changes in marketing and more discriminating control of sales practices.”
A trial in the case ended with a jury decision favorable to the industry, but the jury’s role in the case was merely advisory. A similar case also before Weinstein that was filed by New York City three years ago may now become the pivotal test of the viability of suits against the gun industry, because the legal barrier that blocked the association would not apply to the city.
Lawrence G. Keane, the general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry group, said the judge’s suggestion that the industry could be held responsible for gun deaths caused by criminals was “highly offensive and outrageous….It’s like saying G.M. is responsible for drunk driving.”