http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5iCds11X7CL3ACE6Kr3l2AI4gb3vgUS federal court throws out NYC gun control case
NEW YORK (AFP) — A US federal court in Manhattan has thrown out an eight-year-old case in which New York City sought to rein in the illegal firearms trade.
The appeals court of the second circuit on Wednesday rejected the city's arguments that gun manufacturers sell their products to intermediaries often fully aware that the weapons will end up in criminals' hands.
The judges said arms makers are protected by a 2005 federal law passed to protect them from being held responsible for crimes committed with their products.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg regretted the decision.
"Regardless of this ruling, we will continue our fight against illegal guns full-bore, in the courtrooms, on the streets, and in Congress," he said.
New York TimesThe Wrong Friends
It is remarkable how many people are willing to help illegal gun sellers. Congress all too often takes the side of the gun lobby over victims of gun violence. Last week, in a particularly wrongheaded ruling, a federal appeals court threw out New York City’s longstanding lawsuit intended to rein in illegal gun sellers.
In 2000, New York City sued gun manufacturers and wholesalers claiming that they had knowingly flooded illegal markets with weapons. The goal was to force them to do a better job of monitoring the dealers they sell to. Congress came to the aid of the gun industry, passing a law in 2005 that offered it immunity in many cases. The law has an exception, however, allowing lawsuits when a manufacturer is alleged to have violated a state law “applicable” to gun sales. New York argued that the gun defendants did violate such a law — its criminal nuisance law.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, by a 2-to-1 vote, ruled that the nuisance law does not count because it does not apply specifically to gun sales. That is a bad reading of the federal law. Congress said only that the state law must be “applicable” to gun sales, and the nuisance law — which prohibits creating a condition that endangers the safety of others — clearly is.
Congress, of course, is also very much to blame, for trying to immunize the gun industry in the first place. It should not insulate its friends from the responsibilities imposed by the civil justice system. The way for the gun industry to protect itself from liability is to obey the law.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vowed to continue with separate lawsuits pending against gun dealers; some have already settled with the city. He should, and he should appeal the Second Circuit’s decision. It is shameful, given the damage illegal guns do every year, that he does not have more allies in this worthy battle.