NAACP to Sue Gun Industry

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

(CNS) - Reaching beyond the individuals responsible for loading, aiming and firing guns, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People announced Monday it will file suit against the gun industry for what the group contends is a concerted effort to market and distribute guns to criminals.

Through what it calls "an injunctive class-action lawsuit to force gun manufacturers to distribute their product responsibly," the NAACP seeks court imposed regulations to force the industry to keep tabs on who is buying and selling their products, on the assumption that such a practice will help control criminal gun use.

The lawsuit, to be filed later this week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, will not seek monetary damages but will take the "unprecedented step of seeking significant changes in the gun industry's business practices," according to an NAACP press release.

NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said in a speech at the group's annual convention being held in New York City that the gun industry is responsible for the use or misuse of its products, once in the hands of criminals.

"Easily available handguns are being used to turn many of our communities into war zones," Mfume said. "The fact that the illegal trafficking of firearms disproportionately affects minority communities in this country is indisputable. Urban communities have sadly become so accustomed to the prevalence of firearms in their neighborhoods that they are no longer shocked at the sound of gunfire."

The lawsuit reportedly will seek court orders forcing gun makers to do a better job of monitoring where guns are distributed and it attempt to limit how many guns an individual may purchase at one time.

The organization's move comes just weeks after the House of Representatives voted down, with the help of key Democrats, a gun-control measure which echoed some of the provisions included in the version which passed the Senate.

Mfume suggests the "proliferation" of handguns into the hands of minority individuals is a core factor in what he calls a "disproportionately affected" constituency victimized by gun violence.

The group will join the ranks of cities like Atlanta, New Orleans, Chicago, Cleveland and Boston, in suing the industry to recoup what their government leaders claim are expenses incurred for responding to criminal gun use and treating gunshot victims.

Atlanta and Chicago, however, have adopted a criminal prosecution program first used in Richmond, Virginia which combines the efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement authorities and prosecutors to put gun-wielding criminals in prison. "Project Exile" as it is known, uses federal laws to prosecute felons who commit crimes while possessing a gun.

Between the mix of gun-industry lawsuits and criminal prosecutions, Vice President Al Gore is marketing his own anti-crime agenda, calling for more money for police training, requiring gun owners to obtain a photo-license and banning so called "Saturday Night Specials," or cheaply made handguns.