Texas lawmakers sue
cities over gun suits
Firearm stores join public officials
to defend 2nd Amendment
By Jon E. Dougherty
© 2000 WorldNetDaily.com
In response to a series of lawsuits filed against gun manufacturers, over two dozen Texas lawmakers and gun-store owners have plans to file a countersuit against more than 19 cities and counties "to stop them from damaging our right to keep and bear arms."
According to Trey Blocker, a spokesman for Civil Liberties Defense Foundation in Austin, Texas, the suit will be filed today in state district court in Lubbock.
The effort is being spearheaded by state Rep. Suzanna Hupp, who lost her parents when a gunman killed them and a dozen others in a Luby's Restaurant shooting in Killeen, Texas, in 1991.
Hupp is joined by former state Sen. Jerry Patterson, who started the foundation.
"We are filing this lawsuit to keep these cities from damaging our right to keep and bear arms and the right of gun stores to conduct their businesses free from harassing lawsuits," Hupp said in a statement.
"We want to put a stop, once and for all, to the attempts by litigious attorneys to hold lawful industries liable for the criminal misuse of their products," Patterson said.
"If we do not stop them now, the alcohol, automotive and countless other industries will be attacked next," he said, adding that such legal action would send prices for those products "skyward" and would affect "the availability and affordability of products for the average consumer."
Patterson is a Republican who sponsored the state's concealed handgun law when he still served in the legislature. He and other gun control opponents say that advocates for stricter gun control -- as well as the cities and counties suing the industry - are attempting to force gun makers out of business through litigation. Also, they have said that such suits would violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
"We want to put these lawsuits to bed," Patterson told the Houston Chronicle yesterday. "It appears they have not been successful so far. We'd like to bundle them up and finish this deal and eliminate this attempt to take away our Second Amendment rights."
As governor, George W. Bush signed his state's concealed-carry law, saying he supports it because it is a worthy crime-fighting tool. Bush also signed a law last year prohibiting Texas cities from suing gunmakers without approval from the state legislature.
Cities and municipalities, however, claim the gun industry should be held liable for the costs of treating gunshot victims, for policing high-crime areas and for damages incurred. Also, municipalities have accused the gun industry of irresponsible marketing techniques, even though sales of firearms in the U.S. is closely regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
In the suit, 19 cities and five counties -- as well as the District of Columbia -- are listed as defendants. They are: Atlanta, Ga., Boston, Mass., Bridgeport, Conn., Chicago, Ill., Camden, N.J., Cincinnati, Ohio, Miami, Fla., Newark, N.J., Gary, Ind., New Orleans, La., St. Louis, Mo., Philadelphia, Pa., San Francisco, Calif., Wilmington, Del., Compton, Calif., West Hollywood, Calif., Sacramento, Calif., San Mateo, Calif., Berkeley, Calif., Los Angeles County, Calif., Miami-Dade County, Fla., Camden County, N.J., Wayne County, Mich., Alameda County, Calif., and the District of Columbia.
The suit has backing from 26 Texas lawmakers, including Rep. Ron Wilson of Houston, one of three Democrats listed as plaintiffs.
Gun control advocates dismissed the countersuit as a ploy.
"These are obviously frivolous efforts to try to intimidate cities who are asserting the legal rights of their citizens," Dennis Henigan, legal director of the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence in Washington, D.C., told the Houston paper.
Gun rights activists have said the cost of the industry suits have already forced some manufacturers to either raise prices or discontinue some models altogether.
Jon E. Dougherty is a staff reporter for WorldNetDaily.
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