Federal Judge Dismisses
NAACP Lawsuit Against Gun Industry, But in 176-Page Decision Finds That
Industry Practices Contribute to Gun Violence in New York
WASHINGTON, DC�A federal
judge today dismissed a case filed by the NAACP against the firearms industry
based on the fact that the organization had not proven a "special injury"
under New York law, but, in a 176-page decision, Judge Jack B. Weinstein
found that the gun industry's conduct contributed to the use of its products
to commit crimes and acts of violence. Finding that the NAACP had proven
the existence of a public nuisance by clear and convincing evidence, the
court found that the organization "has demonstrated the great harm done
to the New York public by the use and threat of use of illegally available
handguns in urban communities," and that "[m]embers of the industry continue
to fail to take many obvious and easily implemented steps" to abate the
The NAACP, the nation's
leading civil rights organization, alleged in the lawsuit that the levels
of handgun violence and the presence of illegal guns in New York create
a public nuisance. The NAACP claimed that the defendants' irresponsible
distribution and marketing practices contributed to the nuisance. While
the NAACP also contended that it had been injured by the defendants' conduct
due to the disproportionate impact that handgun violence has on the African
American community in New York, the court found that the NAACP had proven
that gun violence in New York is a pervasive problem affecting everyone.
Matt Nosanchuk, VPC
litigation director and a member of the NAACP's legal team states, "In
effect, the NAACP brought the right case, but was the wrong plaintiff.
Today's forceful and detailed decision repudiates the gun industry's hollow
claims that it bears no responsibility for the flow of handguns from the
legal market into criminals' hands."
The NAACP's trial
team included lead counsel Elisa Barnes, who was lead counsel in Hamilton
v. Accu-tek in 1999; Monica Connell; Dennis Hayes, general counsel and
Angela Ciccolo, deputy general counsel, of the NAACP; Sayre Weaver, legal
director, and Carolyn Morrissette, general counsel, of the Educational
Fund to Stop Gun Violence; and Nosanchuk.
The Violence Policy Center is a
national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence
in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals.
The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research
on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related
death and injury.
Monday, July 21, 2003
Violence Policy Center