NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Cincinnati Gun Suit Dismissed

October 8, 1999

Gun control advocates have been dealt a blow by an Ohio state trial judge who threw out Cincinnati's suit against 12 firearms manufacturers and a distributor. This is the first ruling on the legal merits of actions against the industry filed by 29 municipalities since October 1998.

  • Court of Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman said the defendants could not be found liable under Ohio law for negligence, fraud or making a defective product.
  • Gunmakers aren't responsible if criminals beyond the manufacturer's control misuse firearms, he ruled.
  • "The city's complaint is an improper attempt to have this court substitute its judgment for that of the legislature," the judge wrote.
  • An attorney for the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence's Legal Action Project called the judge's decision "an incorrect interpretation of Ohio law" and sets no precedent that could hurt other plaintiff cities.

In deciding to bring the suit, Cincinnati's nine-member city council had voted along strict party lines -- with Democrats in the majority.

Cincinnati's trial lawyer said he would immediately appeal.

Source: Martin Kasindorf, "Judge Dismisses Cincinnati Gun Suit, Calls Effort 'Improper,'" USA Today, October 8, 1999.


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