NAACP lawsuit targets gun makers


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2dogs
March 18, 2003, 06:58 AM
http://www.sunspot.net/business/bal-naacp031703,0,1961216.story?coll=bal%2Dbusiness%2Dheadlines

NAACP lawsuit targets gun makers
Crime data available to manufacturers demonstrate that industry could keep track of shady dealers and cut them off, lawyers for Baltimore-based civil rights group argue
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By Vanessa O'Connell and Paul M. Barrett
The Wall Street Journal
Originally published March 13, 2003



NEW YORK -- Lawsuits that seek to hold gun makers responsible for firearm violence haven't had much success in court so far. Gun-control advocates say that is about to change.

In a novel suit headed for trial on March 24 in federal court in New York's Brooklyn borough, the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is arguing that handgun violence disproportionately harms poor, urban blacks, and that gun companies have failed to take steps to lessen the harm.

People like Frances Davis hope the NAACP wins its suit. During the past 16 years, each of her three sons died after being shot in separate street confrontations in the predominantly black Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. Residents "constantly live in fear, and that fear is destroying the neighborhood, communities, families," said Davis, 52 years old. "Guns destroyed my life."

The NAACP alleges that gun makers and wholesalers could take more aggressive steps to determine which gun dealers repeatedly sell weapons that end up in criminal hands -- and then crack down on those retailers. To date, that argument hasn't worked so well in a series of suits that cities and counties nationwide have brought against the industry.

Earlier this month, a California state-court judge in San Diego dismissed a group of gun-maker defendants from a suit filed by municipalities in that state.

But in the NAACP's suit, gun-control lawyers have some powerful new legal ammunition and a sympathetic trial judge as they go after gun wholesalers and manufacturers. The suit names more than 80 defendants including Smith & Wesson Holding Corp., Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Glock GmbH.

Their ammunition comes from a subpoena that a New York plaintiffs' attorney, Elisa Barnes, successfully used last fall to force the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to turn over a trove of statistics on the movement of guns used in crime -- a far bigger cache of the data than has previously been obtained by gun-control lawyers.

The ATF has collected the information for decades but resisted sharing it, saying that might interfere with criminal investigations and encroach on the privacy of some people, such as those who had legally bought guns later picked up at a crime scene. Much of the data come from gun companies themselves.

The government gives gun makers the serial numbers of any of their guns used in a crime. Makers, in turn, tell the government which wholesalers handled the weapons, and those wholesalers can identify the dealers involved.

Expert analysis of this and other data, Barnes predicted, will demonstrate that the industry itself has the ability to keep track of shady dealers and to cut them off.

In addition, an industry insider may emerge as the star witness. Robert Ricker, a 52-year-old former National Rifle Association attorney who still quietly consults with some industry interests, says he plans to testify in the case that his former colleagues consciously decided against taking certain steps to help keep guns away from rogue dealers.

He and others tried to raise these concerns and push change from the inside but were effectively silenced, he said.

Presiding over the NAACP case is Jack Weinstein, an 81-year-old semi-retired federal trial judge famous for his sympathy for creative liability theories and using the courts to resolve tough social problems. He supervised what seemed to be an important gun-control court victory in 1999 that was later reversed by the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.

Barnes represented relatives of gun-crime victims in that suit. In the current case, he used his judicial authority to back Barnes's demands for ATF crime-gun records.

In an unconventional move, Judge Weinstein is putting an "advisory jury" in the box for this bench trial -- meaning he will consider the jurors' views but reserve to himself the role of ultimately determining liability and a remedy.

Gun-industry lawyers say the NAACP suit is one more illogical attempt to place enforcement of criminal gun laws on gun makers. But privately, defense lawyers say they may well lose at trial and their main focus is preparing the ground for another appeal to the Second Circuit, where they expect to be vindicated.

"We hope for the best but expect the worst," said Lawrence G. Keane, general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade group.

The suit has attracted attention not only among those who debate gun policy but also in civil-rights circles.

"The NAACP has a long history of challenging the courts to think through policies that stand the courts on their head," said William Spriggs, executive director of the Institute for Equality at the National Urban League, an African-American advocacy organization. "Most of its major advances took place because it was able to use the courts to advance public policy and think about issues in a far broader way."

Industry defenders answer that gun-control advocates should take their concerns to mayors, city councils and even Congress. Gun-liability suits are a backdoor alternative to achieving limits on guns that politicians haven't been willing to legislate, the industry's Keane said.

Within the industry, Ricker, the former NRA attorney, made no secret of his view that the NRA and its allies have unnecessarily resisted identifying dubious gun dealers. In a Jan. 31 affidavit obtained by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, he said gun makers have known for years that some wholesalers and dealers divert weapons to lawbreakers.

Ricker said gun makers themselves could use the ATF's crime-gun data to identify the problem dealers, but have chosen not to.

"It's a very simple system," he said. "Gun makers get a report from the government when their guns are used in crimes. They can inquire down the line to find out which wholesaler or dealer was involved. It's easy for them to have the information, but they have to use it."

Industry lawyers say they will try to undercut Ricker's credibility by pointing out stark changes in his public statements on the topic. Keane, the gun-trade-group lawyer, said Ricker's "contention that this industry knowingly sells guns to criminals is: a.) insulting, b.) offensive and c.) patently false." The industry routinely cooperates with police and goes beyond that to train dealers to recognize suspect buyers, he added.

The judge in the California case had Ricker's affidavit before him but still dismissed the manufacturer defendants, allowing the suit to proceed against only a handful of wholesalers and dealers.

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tyme
March 18, 2003, 07:24 AM
Uhh, dealers don't actually know what guns were used in what crimes, or even that particular serial numbers of interest were used in crimes, do they? Don't they just get calls from the BATF asking about serial number 123? Sure, they can assume that there's something not right about all of them, and figure out which wholesalers or dealers are getting the most asked-about guns, but how that has anything to do with violent crime or minorities is beyond me.

Shweboner
March 18, 2003, 11:56 AM
Residents "constantly live in fear, and that fear is destroying the neighborhood, communities, families," said Davis, 52 years old. "Guns destroyed my life."

Just another low-life looking for a paycheck. How is this going to make the streets safe? ITS NOT!!! I cannot believe these people.

Words cannot express what I am thinking right now. This is insane. I hope they LOSE. Score one for personal responsibility.:rolleyes:


~Brian

clem
March 18, 2003, 03:09 PM
HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!

I wonder if Jessie Jackson or Al Sharpton are involved in this?

:cuss:

Skunkabilly
March 18, 2003, 03:15 PM
And how does infringing upon a civil right benefit colored or not-so-colored people?

UnknownSailor
March 18, 2003, 03:23 PM
Residents "constantly live in fear, and that fear is destroying the neighborhood, communities, families," said Davis, 52 years old. "Guns destroyed my life."

Excuse me while I cry a river for you.

It's perfectly within your power to change your situation, sir, but that you havn't signifies that you don't want it changed enough for you to bother.

If you would stop looking to government to fix your problems, and banded together as a community and stopped permitting these criminals to live in your midst, the crime and poverty problems might actually be solved. I know that you know who all the violent people are, but yet you still tolerate them in your midst.

Let me borrow a phrase from your particular.....culture, as it were.

"Talk to the hand."

cuchulainn
March 18, 2003, 03:28 PM
Crime data available to manufacturers demonstrate that industry could keep track of shady dealers and cut them off, lawyers for Baltimore-based civil rights group argue

That begs the question: If it's so clear and accessible, why aren't federal, state and local authorities using it to crack down on the "shady dealers"? :rolleyes:

Master Blaster
March 18, 2003, 03:28 PM
Ricker said gun makers themselves could use the ATF's crime-gun data to identify the problem dealers, but have chosen not to.

Why is it that the ATF is not doing its job and putting these folks out of business?

So since the ATF does not do its job the gun makers should become

VIGILANTES????????

Thats the legal arguement?????????

Chris Rhines
March 18, 2003, 03:59 PM
Presiding over the NAACP case is Jack Weinstein, an 81-year-old semi-retired federal trial judge famous for his sympathy for creative liability theories and using the courts to resolve tough social problems. This is why I no longer have any faith in the legal system.

- Chris

D_Burchfield
March 18, 2003, 04:46 PM
Residents "constantly live in fear, and that fear is destroying the neighborhood, communities, families," said Davis, 52 years old. "Guns destroyed my life."

BUY A GUN AND SHOOT BACK!

But don't go and see one of those "shady dealers".:scrutiny:

Monkeyleg
March 18, 2003, 06:29 PM
What would the NAACP's reaction be if a dealer posted a sign in his shop that read, "We do not sell guns to blacks" ?

I've been in a particular gun shop many times when gang-banger types come in to buy. What's the dealer supposed to do? The only thing this particular dealer has been able to do is call the police/ATF with a license plate number and hope that they get a match on someone with a criminal record.

Billll
March 18, 2003, 06:38 PM
John Birch (no relation, I don't think) of concealedcarry.org, has suggested that gun dealers in the Chicago area post prominently that they support the ACLU and the NAACP 100% and will, therefore not sell any firearms whatsoever to any black. The local neighborhood rabble rousers have been marching to close down a gun store in their neighborhood.
I don't know if he sent this notice out to any of the Chicago papers or not, but it might be interesting to see the reaction.
Even better would be if a letter arrived on the desks of the ACLU and the NAACP, and every single paper in the chicago area from some previously unheard-of white supremicist group, stating their solidarity with the 2 rights groups on this one.

Yohan
March 19, 2003, 12:10 AM
I thought the NAACP was the national a something for advancement of colored people? First thing they should do is get the stupid rappers to stop "non-advancing the black race" by being stupid and talking about guns in an *gasp* unsafe manner.

CZ-75
March 19, 2003, 12:19 AM
Perhaps gunmakers should sue the poverty pimps at the NAACP for promoting the two most harmful messages to blacks:

1) "You can't."

2) "You deserve it." (or are "Entitled to it.")

Combine the two and we get a whole subculture that won't try to better themselves and think that everyone else should provide for them, often while looking down the barrel of a gun. :rolleyes:

The National Association for the ADVANCEMENT of Colored People is anything but.

hansolo
March 19, 2003, 12:50 AM
If a BG in BedStey torches someones home with a molotov cocktail involving gasoline, can the survivors sue the petrolium company?

If he/she beats someone to death with a hammer, can they sue the company that manufactured the hammer?

Ludicrous, right? What's the difference if same BG shoots someone with a firearm? Why not sue the Chinese...didn't they invent gunpowder?

"...we're living in fear..." -- Arm yourselves and get training.

BamBam
March 19, 2003, 01:33 AM
Expert analysis of this and other data, Barnes predicted, will demonstrate that the industry itself has the ability to keep track of shady dealers and to cut them off.
"Shady" meaning dealers who sell to Negroes? So the answer is to stop supplying guns to gunshops in Black neighborhoods? I suppose the NAACP already has a discrimination lawsuit in the works for that.
They have invented the perpetual motion machine! It's powered by lawsuits.

JPM70535
March 19, 2003, 02:04 AM
Monkeyleg hit the nail on the head. Within 15 minutes of posting the sign "No gun sales to Blacks" there would be such a cry of outrage from the black community, followed by riots in the street, burning and looting of stores, (including the gun store where the sign was posted so they could get more guns) that politicians would fall all over themselves to reverse the actions of the sign poster.

The time has long since arrived when residents of a crime ridden, drug infested neighborhood should stop balming every one and everything for their plight except the one true cause "THEMSELVES"

Blackhawk
March 19, 2003, 02:11 AM
Expert analysis of this and other data, Barnes predicted, will demonstrate that the industry itself has the ability to keep track of shady dealers and to cut them off.Maybe so, but that doesn't mean they have the right or obligation to do those things.

What is it about private in "private enterprise" these twits don't understand?

Drjones
March 19, 2003, 02:12 AM
Why not sue the Chinese...didn't they invent gunpowder?


:D :D :D

Hahahaha...

That's the best one I've heard in a while!!!

hehehe...

Well, clearly gun dealers should stop selling to blacks.

That would solve the problem.

:rolleyes: :banghead:

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