Gun Rights Group Sues US Mayors

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

(CNSNews.com) - A national gun rights group filed suit Tuesday against the US Conference of Mayors (USCM), contending that recent lawsuits against gun manufacturers violates the rights of firearms consumers and manufacturers.

The Second Amendment Foundation, a firearms civil rights organization based in Bellevue, WA, filed a lawsuit in Washington, DC against the USCM, and certain individual mayors, alleging conspiracy to violate civil and constitutional rights as well as the creation of undue burden on lawful interstate commerce.

"Our suit isn't in defense of the firearms industry, it's in defense of the consumer who buys the products," SAF founder Alan Gottlieb told CNSNews.com.

"We warned both the USCM and individual mayors of our intent to defend our rights and those of millions of law-abiding Americans against the warrantless attacks. Now they're being sued while their frivolous lawsuits are being dealt serious blows in the courts," Gottlieb added.

The suit names the USCM and the mayors of Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Atlanta, Cleveland and 18 other cities which have either filed suit against the firearms industry or are in the process of doing so.

The cities' lawsuits seek damages from manufacturers, dealers and shops for crimes committed with guns, arguing that taxpayers have been forced to pay medical bills and other costs.

The mayors' legal challenges already have forced several gun makers to declare bankruptcy, severely downsize their product lines and raise firearms rates, thus hurting consumers all across the country, Gottlieb said. Consumers include taxpayer-funded federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

Gottlieb said the suit would put the mayors on the defensive. "Now they can no longer wear a white hat. They're now a defendant, not a plaintiff. Their suits are not based on merit, they're based on political ideology," he said.

A spokesman for the USCM in Washington declined to comment to CNSNews.com on the case, saying he had not seen the compaint.

A spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a group of 40 religious and civic organizations that seeks to stop gun violence in the US, said an initial review of the Second Amendment's complains suggested the allegations put forward were "completely spurious."

"This is probably a publicity stunt on their behalf mostly aimed at helping their direct mail campaign," Joshua Horwitz, legal counsel for the CSGV, told CNSNews.com. "I'd be shocked if this goes anywhere," he said.

"I think the mayors see this as an opportunity to learn a little bit more about the opposition. I don't think anybody's worried one iota. The mayors have very good, competent legal teams already surrounding them and this is just one more action they're working on," Horwitz said.

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that gun deaths in the United States dropped 21 percent between 1993 and 1997, and non-fatal firearm-related injuries fell 41 percent during the same period. The study looked at all gunshot wounds - whether intentional, accidental or self-inflicted - reported at emergency rooms.

There were 39,595 gun-related deaths in 1993, about 15.4 per 100,000 people. That number fell to 32,436 in 1997, about 12.1 per 100,000.

The drop was not unexpected: Homicide rates in the 1990s have fallen to levels not seen since the 1960s, and about two-thirds of all homicides are committed with guns. The latest figures also include suicides and accidental deaths, both of which dropped by 10.9 percent and 38.1 percent, respectively.

The gun lobby says these figures prove that more gun laws aren't needed and that enforcement of laws already on the books is enough. But gun control advocates said the recent campaigns to keep guns away from criminals should be expanded to include those who are emotionally distraught.

"I think there's been a slow devolution of a gun society and these suits are just one more indication [of that]," Horwitz said.