A federal appeals panel in San Francisco yesterday reinstated a lawsuit charging that gun industry sales tactics put weapons into the arms of criminals. The case involves a white supremacist who killed a mail carrier and wounded three children.
The Associated Press says the ruling likely will re-ignite debate int he U.S. Senate debate over legislation that would immunize the gun industry from being sued over crimes committed with their products. More than 30 states already have a law exempting gun manufacturers and distributors from such cases. The House in April has passed an immunization bill, and President Bush says he would sign it, but Senate Democrats have threatened a filibuster.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reinstated a case that was dismissed in 2001 by a Los Angeles federal judge. It was been filed against manufacturers and distributors of weapons used by white supremacist Buford Furrow, who wounded three children at a Jewish day care center in 1999. Furrow then shot a postal worker to death. He is serving a life prison term without parole.
Survivors argue that weapons firms produce and sell more firearms than legal purchasers could buy, and that the industry knowingly encourages an underground illegal gun market. Dividing 2-1, the appeals panel reinstated the case under California negligence and wrongful death statutes against Georgia-based Glock Inc., China North Industries Corp., RSR Management Corp. and RSR Wholesales guns Seattle Inc. Judge Richard Paez wrote that Glock’s marketing strategy with police departments creates a “supply of post-police guns that can be sold through unlicensed dealers without background checks to illegal buyers.”