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Judge Drops Chicago Mayor's $433
Million Law Suit Against Gunmakers
Written By MIKE ROBINSON, Associated Press 
September 15, 2000 7:38 p.m. EDT


Dateline CHICAGO - http://www.nandotimes.com

- A $433 million lawsuit against the firearms industry by Mayor 
Richard M. Daley was dismissed Friday by a judge who said 
the mayor should try to combat city crime through law enforcement 
methods and legislation. 

Cook County Circuit Judge Stephen Schiller questioned the city's
use of statistics showing that many guns used in gang shootings in
Chicago have actually been purchased at suburban gun shops,
many by so-called straw purchasers who bought them for resale to
criminals. 

Schiller said the statistics represent the kind of evidence that calls
for legislation rather than court action. 

More than 30 cities and counties across the country have filed
lawsuits against the firearms industry, with mixed results. Last
October, a state judge allowed Atlanta's lawsuit to proceed, while an
Ohio judge dismissed Cincinnati's. 

Daley pledged to appeal the decision and said Schiller, a former
Criminal Court judge, should have understood the need for the
lawsuit. 

"Who in his right mind is going to be having this on the street in front
of your child?" he said, holding up a rifle. 

Daley's lawsuit was filed in November 1998 following an undercover
investigation by Chicago police officers who posed as straw
purchasers - people with state firearms owners identification cards
who buy guns for those who lack them, usually because they have
criminal records and are ineligible. Daley said the $433 million was
related to the cost of police, medical and other services over a
four-year period. 

Named as defendants were 22 gun manufacturers, including such
major names as Beretta, Colt, Smith & Wesson and Browning. 

James Valentino, an attorney for defendant Universal Firearms Ltd.,
said the decision was important for all businesses, not just gun
makers. 

"If the manufacturer of a product can be held liable because
somebody uses his product illegally, then no manufacturer is safe,"
he said. He said police should concentrate their efforts on straw
purchasers. 

Daley also pledged to carry the fight to the Legislature this fall in an
effort to make sure there is state licensing of gun shops and a limit of
one gun purchase per month per person. 

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