The Indiana Supreme Court is allowing the city of Gary to sue gun manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors, on grounds that they sold handguns they knew were likely to end up in the hands of criminals. The Indianapolis Star says that the 5-0 ruling also held that Gary can pursue a claim that handguns sold without safety devices like gun locks are negligently designed.
The case could be endangered by a bill pending in Congress that would bar lawsuits against the gun industry by municipalities and the victims of gun violence. Gary is among 33 localities that have sued the industry. The House of Representatives voted 285-140 on April 9 in favor of the ban. Gary gun makers in August 1999 with help from the Washington-based Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “We’re very pleased by this decision,” Gary Mayor Scott King said. “We should be given the opportunity to be heard. What is the gun industry so afraid of?”
In March 2001, Lake Superior Court rejected the negligence and public nuisance case against 11 gun manufacturers, one wholesaler, and five retailers, all of whom the city alleges knowingly sold handguns to people who could not legally buy them.
The Indiana Supreme Court became the second state top court to uphold a municipality’s right to sue gun manufacturers to recover taxpayer money spent as a result of gun-related violence. Ohio, in June 2002, was the first.
Gary, a city of 102,746 along the Lake Michigan shoreline, wants to halt the sale of guns without safety devices, prohibit gun makers from doing business with disreputable firearms dealers, and collect financial damages.