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Chicago Suit Against Gun Makers Rejected by Illinois Supreme Court


NEWTOWN, CT -- 11/18/2004 -- Today a unanimous Illinois Supreme Court rejected the City of Chicago’s attempt to blame gun makers for the criminal misuse of firearms within the city. In rejecting Chicago’s case the court ruled that gun makers do not owe a “duty to the city of Chicago or its residents to prevent their firearms from ending up in the hands of persons who use and possess them illegally.”

The court concluded that the “matter of regulating the manufacture, distribution, and sale of firearms” was best left to the legislature, not the courts.

“Today’s decision is the latest in a long list of appellate court decisions that have rejected politically motivated ’junk’ lawsuits that have tried to blame the makers of well-made, lawfully sold firearms for the actions of criminals,” said Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry’s trade association. “Chicago’s reckless lawsuit was premised on a thoroughly discredited legal theory.”

Chicago now joins a list of other cities that have failed in their suits against gun makers. Other cities include Boston, Cincinnati, Newark and Jersey City.

While members of the firearm industry are no longer at risk of immediate bankruptcy from Chicago’s case that sought over $430 million in damages plus untold millions in punitive damages, the legal threats to the continued existence of the industry are far from over. The costs of mounting repeated defenses to “junk” lawsuits are staggering. Keane estimates that the industry has spent almost $200 million dollars to defend itself with no end in sight.

“We are pleased by today’s ruling, of course. But our industry has been forced since the late 1990s to repeatedly defend itself at tremendous cost and expense against harassment from anti-gun zealots filing bogus lawsuits. The only thing that’s been proven is that it’s all just a colossal waste of time and taxpayer money,” said Keane.

“Chicago’s case is just the latest example of why Congress must act swiftly to enact common sense legal reform to end once and for all these predatory suits,” said Keane. He was referring to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a federal bill that would end suits that seek to impose liability on manufacturers and sellers of firearms for the criminal misuse of non-defective, lawfully sold firearms. Keane noted that over 30 states have already enacted similar legislation. The bill is strongly supported by President Bush.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, formed in 1961, directs a variety of outreach programs to promote greater participation and a better understanding of shooting sports, emphasizing on safe and responsible ownership of firearms. For further information, please visit


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