NEWTOWN, Conn. — Today, a Manhattan-based federal appeals court ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit filed against firearms manufacturers by the City of New York that sought to hold the manufacturers responsible for the criminal misuse of firearms.
Judge Robert J. Miner, writing for the U.S. Court of Appeals, held the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, enacted in 2005, is constitutional and that Brooklyn, NY, federal court judge Jack B. Weinstein misinterpreted the law by not dismissing the case.
“We think Congress clearly intended to protect from vicarious liability members of the firearms industry who engage in the ‘lawful design, manufacture, marketing, distribution, importation, or sale’ of firearms,” said Judge Miner.
In dismissing the city’s claim that its suit fit within an exception to the act – a claim that would allow its case to go forward – the court wrote that the statute was “intended to shield the firearms industry from the vicarious liability for harm caused by firearms that were lawfully distributed into primary markets.”
Following the ruling by the court, Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) – the firearms industry’s trade association – said, “Today’s ruling is very gratifying to members of the firearms industry. In passing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, Congress understood that frivolous lawsuits like New York City’s defied common sense and represented a clear abuse of the judicial system that threatened to bankrupt a responsible and law-abiding industry.”
The city’s lawsuit against the nation’s firearms manufacturers was originally filed by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in June 2000 and was continued by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Mayor Bloomberg is also suing out-of-state firearms retailers. That case will go to trial later this month before Judge Weinstein.
Today’s ruling is seen by many as another major setback for gun-control groups, principally the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which pursued and funded many of the municipal lawsuits, including this New York City case, against the firearms industry.
Big victory for gun owners, gun shops, and gun manufacturers. I believe this is the first decision where the Protection of Lawful Commerce Act has been used to dismiss a case in favor of the shooting sports industry.