NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

States Starting To Challenge Gun Lawsuits

March 23, 1999

Many state legislatures are beginning to question whether cities should sue manufacturers of guns, ostensibly to defray the costs of treating firearms victims.

Georgia has enacted -- and other states are considering -- legislation forbidding cities from suing the gun industry. Wyoming lawmakers recently introduced legislation encouraging its attorney general to intervene on behalf of gun makers in liability lawsuits.

The movement is being built on some forceful arguments:

  • Having failed to persuade the public and lawmakers to adopt stringent gun controls, anti-gun activists have turned to the unelected judiciary to force their will upon the majority.
  • If manufacturers are to be held responsible for the misuse of their products, wouldn't manufacturers of, for example, knives, cars, ladders and swimming pools be legally accountable when their products result in deaths or injuries?
  • The best defense against violence is an armed response -- verified by the fact that women faced with an assault are two-and-a-half times less likely to suffer serious injuries if they defend themselves with a gun, rather than responding with other weapons or offering no resistance.
  • Additionally, persons defending themselves with guns during an assault were injured only 12 percent of the time -- compared with 25 percent for those using other weapons, 27 percent for those offering no resistance and nearly 26 percent for those who fled.

Criminologists point out that if the suits reduce the rate of lawful gun ownership, crime and unemployment would probably increase -- as defenseless citizens and industries flee to seek friendlier and safer business environments.

Source: H. Sterling Burnett (National Center for Policy Analysis), "Ban Gun Lawsuits, Not Guns," Investor's Business Daily, March 23, 1999.


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