Chicago Gun Suit Off- Target "Where Will This Silly Lawsuit Parade Stop?"
November 16, 1998
Dallas - H. Sterling Burnett, a policy analyst with the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis, responded today to Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's decision to sue gun manufactures, distributors and licensed dealers for the health-costs associated with gun violence saying, "Where will this silly lawsuit parade stop, suing Hershey's for the cost of a root canal?"
The $433 million lawsuit charges that 22 gun manufacturers, 4 distributors and 12 licensed dealers are creating a public nuisance by flooding the market with guns, which stimulates demand. Chicago's attempt to prove a nuisance by over supply opens a new chapter in tort law. New Orleans, which has already taken the gun industry to court, took the more usual liability route - claiming the industry fails to provide adequate safety features.
"This entire trend of suing the industry for third party misuse is legally and intellectually suspect," stated Burnett.
"If Chicago's lawsuit succeeds, it will establish bad law and bad public policy. It would establish bad law because it asks the courts to legislate and it would overturn well-established legal precedence that manufacturers are not responsible for the criminal misuse of their products. It would be bad public policy because guns prevent more harm than they cause."
Burnett noted that numerous studies have shown that citizens use guns in self-defense between 800,000 and 3.6 million times annually (in the vast majority of cases, merely showing the firearm prevents the crime), with the most comprehensive study estimating more than 2.5 million defensive gun uses per year. That far exceeds the number of crimes committed with firearms each year.
Added Burnett: "It's a simple fact; guns don't cause crimes, criminals and foolish gun control policies do."