A lawsuit against gun manufacturer was dismissed yesterday by a Washington, D.C., judge who ruled that it was precisely the sort of claim that a new federal law was intended to block. The D.C. City Council, said Superior Court Judge Brook Hedge, determined that assault weapons have “little or no social benefit but at the same time pernicious consequences for the health and safety of [Washington] residents and visitors.” Congress “has trumped local law by passing legislation to protect the profits of such manufacturers,” she wrote. The suit, filed by the city and by victims of gun violence and their families, aimed to hold gun manufacturers liable for the flow of firearms into Washington and for the carnage created by the sale of illegal weapons.
Gun makers and trade groups say the industry has been made a scapegoat for lax law enforcement and the actions of criminals. The Washington case was among the most aggressive of many such suits filed across the nation. It argued that under a 1990 local law, the manufacturer, dealer, or importer of an assault weapon or machine gun can be held liable for damages arising from an injury or death that results from the discharge of a firearm in the city.