New York City officials are urging the U.S. Senate to reject a bill that would shield the gun industry from lawsuits contending that guns are a public nuisance, a legal strategy that the city has been pursuing for four years, the New York Times reports. The bill, scheduled for a vote in the next few weeks, would grant the gun industry immunity from civil lawsuits brought by municipalities and individuals who claim that the industry fails to exercise adequate control over gun dealers. It would probably mean the end of efforts by New York and other cities seeking to make gun manufacturers and distributors liable for weapons used to commit crimes.
In January 2000, New York City sued about 50 gun makers and distributors, in hopes of getting them to exert control over the dealers whose guns frequently end up on the black market. The case is scheduled to go to trial in September. Other cities including Cleveland, Washington, D.C., and Gary, Ind., have similar lawsuits pending. Last year, the House passed a bill granting immunity to the gun industry, but it failed in the Senate after several amendments were added requiring background checks for all sales at gun shows and reinstating a ban on assault weapons.