NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Gun Lawsuits Bad Public Policy

January 25, 1999

Some legal experts are deploring the suits against gun manufacturers being brought by the mayors of New Orleans and Chicago. They warn that if the suits are successful, we will be burdened by bad law and bad public policy -- bad law because they ask the courts to legislate, and bad public policy because guns prevent more harm than they cause.

  • In a multitude of similar lawsuits, courts have consistently held that questions concerning whether firearms should be legal and widely available are for legislative assemblies to decide.
  • Critics warn that frustration at the failure of legislatures to enact gun laws is not adequate reason to engage the judicial forum in efforts to implement a broad policy change.
  • Criminals fear armed citizens even more than they do the police -- since nearly 3,000 criminals are lawfully killed each year by armed citizens, more than three times the number killed by the police.
  • An additional 9,000 to 17,000 criminals are wounded by civilians each year.

The most comprehensive study reveals that citizens use guns in self defense in more than 2.5 million instances per year -- far exceeding the number of crimes committed with firearms.

A recent study by economist John Lott revealed that concealed handgun laws reduce murder by 8.5 percent and rape by 5 percent. Had liberal laws allowing citizens to carry a concealed weapon prevailed nationally, there would have been 1,600 fewer murders and 4,200 fewer rapes each year.

Source: H. Sterling Burnett (National Center for Policy Analysis), "Making Guns Safe for Lawyers," Washington Times, January 25, 1999.


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