NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Public Not Behind Lawsuits Against Gun Makers

December 14, 1999

Trial lawyers and the Clinton administration seem to have given up on democracy, says H. Sterling Burnett of the National Center for Policy Analysis. They are pursuing the constitutionally and legally dubious route of lawsuits against gun manufacturers for the public costs of criminal, negligent and self-destructive gun misuse -- but the public is not with them.

While a majority of Americans favor stricter gun laws, this number has fallen substantially in recent years.

  • A Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll in June 1999 found that only 62 percent of Americans favored stricter gun laws, compared to 78 percent in 1990.
  • And even after the tragic school shootings in Colorado and Georgia, the proportion of people who said they would not consider gun control a major issue when voting increased from 19 percent to 21 percent.
  • Moreover, a poll by the Tarrance Group found that while 84 percent of the public feel that people who use firearms illegally should be held responsible, only 5 percent feel that manufacturers or retailers should be held responsible for firearm misuse.

In the end, the true victims of these lawsuits will be voters, consumers and the public, concludes Burnett.

Source: H. Sterling Burnett (senior analyst, National Center for Policy Analysis), "Latest Gun Lawsuits Leading Us Down a Slippery Slope," Houston Chronicle, December 11, 1999.


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