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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of gun manufacturers filed suit against federal, state and local officials on Wednesday, charging that efforts to impose safety measures are a conspiracy that violate constitutional guarantees of free trade.
The suit was filed in U.S. federal court in Atlanta by seven gun makers and an industry group against the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut and officials from 14 municipalities.
"We are here to expose a plan that brazenly places political self-interest above police and citizen safety," said Robert Delfay, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation that represents gun makers and distributors, at a news conference.
The federal government, some states and municipalities have been using legal action and police gun-purchasing contracts to pressure the gun industry to make weapons safer and tighten up on sales practices in an effort to curb shooting deaths.
In March, the U.S. government dropped its threat of legal action against Smith & Wesson, the nation's biggest maker of handguns, after the company agreed to install child-safety trigger locks and develop other technologies to prevent firing by anyone other than the owner. Smith & Wesson, a unit of Tomkins Plc (TOMK.L), was not a party to the suit filed Wednesday.
In the lawsuit, the manufacturers ask the court to forbid the defendants from setting any new national regulations that are not authorized by Congress on the design, manufacture, advertising, or distribution of handguns.
The suit was the latest volley in the battle between gun makers and the Clinton administration, which has sought to curb gun violence in the wake of shootings at schools and elsewhere.
"We'll see 'em in court," White House spokesman Jake Siewert, who accompanied Clinton on a trip to North Carolina, said about the industry lawsuit.
The manufacturers who filed suit were Beretta U.S.A. Corp., Browning Arms Inc., Colt's Manufacturing Inc., Glock Inc., SIG Arms Inc., Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. and Taurus International Manufacturing. The National Shooting Sports Foundation also filed suit.
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