NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

States Support Gun Industry Immunity from Suits

April 4, 2003

The House Judiciary Committee has just approved a bill giving gun manufacturers and dealers immunity against many types of lawsuits -- including those already in court brought by shooting victims and municipalities.

Granting immunity would be a serious setback for advocates of gun control -- who have increasingly turned to state courts in recent years after meeting resistance in state legislatures.

  • The national legislation has so much political support -- sponsored by 248 House members and 52 senators -- that probably only a filibuster could derail it, observers predict.
  • Legislatures in more than 30 states have passed laws protecting the gun industry from lawsuits.
  • Gun control plays well in urban areas, however, and two dozen cities and counties have filed suits seeking damages for the costs of gun violence -- although none of the suits have succeeded and eight have been dismissed.
  • Experts have estimated that the suits have so far cost the firearms industry more than $100 million in legal fees.

That's a considerable burden on a relatively small industry with many family-owned businesses, industry defenders point out.

Source: John Tierney, "A New Push to Grant Gun Industry Immunity from Suits," New York Times, April 4, 2003.


Browse more articles on Government Issues