Recently in Guns Category

In more than twenty felon-found-with-firearm cases, judges have found the testimony of New York City police "to be unreliable, inconsistent, twisting the truth, or just plain false. The judges' language was often withering: 'patently incredible,' 'riddled with exaggerations,' 'unworthy of belief.'" Yet "with few exceptions", the testifying officers have faced no consequences, "prosecutors did not notify police authorities about the judges' findings", and the Police Department says it has no official knowledge of most of the cases. Could this relate to the arrogance of a city administration hardened in the belief that individual rights always have to give way to the greater social good of "getting guns off the streets"? (Benjamin Weiser, "Police in Gun Searches Face Disbelief in Court", New York Times, May 12)(& welcome Instapundit readers).

It might only confuse the jury in the city's lawsuit against a Georgia gun shop whose wares too often found their way North (Joseph Goldstein, "Gag on 2nd Amendment Is City's Aim in Guns Suit", New York Sun, May 9). "Mr. [John] Renzulli, who has defended suits against the gun industry in Judge Weinstein's courtroom before, said that in the past the defense has struck a deal with the plaintiffs on the matter: Lawyers for the gun industry won't mention the Bill of Rights to the jury, if the plaintiffs don't mention the National Rifle Association."

"Stacy Hanson and wife Colleen are suing Rocky Mountain Enterprises of Nevada, owner of the West Valley City pawn shop where Sulejman Talovic purchased a shotgun with a pistol grip. Talovic killed five people and injured four at Salt Lake City's Trolley Square mall in February 2007." (KSL, May 2).

A major victory for the good guys, of which Ted has a discussion at Point of Law. I would add that Mayor Bloomberg and other promoters of the gun litigation should take very little comfort from Judge Katzmann's dissent, which is based on two themes -- that the majority could have decided the case without reference to constitutional analysis, and that it could have certified the case to the New York courts for an authoritative account of local law -- that in no way imply any endorsement of the city's case on the merits. (Larry Neumeister, AP/SFGate, Apr. 30).

More from Hans Bader: "The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has claimed that the law violates "separation of powers" by changing the outcome of pending court cases (an argument that, if taken to its logical conclusion, would require invalidating the 1964 Civil Rights Act because it legislatively overturned trespass convictions of civil-rights demonstrators who engaged in sit-ins)."

In Great Britain, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has required the Carnon Downs drama group in Cornwall to undertake to keep plastic and wooden swords and cutlasses locked up when not in use on stage in a traditional pantomime. The group was also obliged to register an imitation gun which ejects a flag with the word BANG. (BBC, Jan. 18). Earlier on holiday pantomime regulation: Dec. 13, 2007 (no throwing candy to audience), Sept. 14, 2004 (cultural sensitivity in portrayals of characters).

Along with the piece of steak she'd brought to eat:

“She did not use it inappropriately. She did not threaten anyone with it. She didn’t pull it out and brandish it. Nothing of that nature,” explained Marion County [Ocala, Fla.] School Spokesman Kevin Christian.

The girl is now facing felony charges. ("Knife At Lunch Gets 10-Year-Old Girl Arrested At School", WFTV, Dec. 14; Never Yet Melted, Dec. 18).

If the Cape May, N.J. school district was really going to punish a 7-year-old just for making a drawing of such a thing, with no actual water gun in sight, shouldn't maybe the punishment have been to make him draw a stick figure of a little boy getting an overly-harsh suspension? (Zincavage, Oct. 21; Charles Sykes, "I Have Zero Tolerance for Zero Tolerance Policies", American Thinker, Oct. 30).

NYC Mayor Bloomberg's lawsuits against out-of-state gun dealers continue in New York City, thanks to Judge Weinstein (see Aug. 27, and links therein), but it's not all rosy for the mayor. As we previously reported, some of the gun dealers targeted by Bloomberg's sting are fighting back, and one of them won a victory last month:

Questioning the legality of tactics used by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to sue gun dealers, a federal judge in Atlanta has allowed a defamation suit by a Smyrna, Ga., gun shop against Bloomberg and other New York City officials to go forward.

Although the judge dismissed the Smyrna gun seller's negligence claims against New York officials, he declared that six of 13 potentially defamatory statements were actionable and cleared the way for a tortious interference with business claim.


Bloomberg, accompanied by other New York public officials, announced the results of the sting -- and the accompanying suit -- in May 2006 at a news conference. According to court records in the case, Bloomberg called the gun dealers "a group of bad apples who routinely ignore federal regulations," and Feinblatt said that the targeted gun dealers had "New Yorkers' blood on their hands." Forrester ruled that both of those statements are vulnerable to liability claims.

More importantly, the judge denied Bloomberg's request to transfer the case to New York, where it would have been heard by Judge Weinstein. (Bloomberg is attempting to get the decision reversed, but for now, the suit against him is active.)

In other gun-related litigation, it seems that Gary, Indiana's lawsuit against gun manufacturers may continue, despite the fact that Congress passed a law explicitly banning such lawsuits; as in New York City's war on gun manufacturers, activist judges seem to want to interpret away Congress's words. (Last week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Manhattan in an appeal of Judge Weinstein's ruling allowing the city's lawsuit to proceed. (Earlier: Nov. 2005)

Giuliani and guns


Don Surber welcomes Hizzoner's conversion; Sister Toldjah remains to be convinced (disclaimer; and see quote from me here; our page on firearms litigation and regulation). More: By coincidence, the Bloomberg administration is in court at the moment trying to argue that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act doesn't actually put the kibosh on the city's gun suits, despite a mountain of evidence that it was intended to do just that (Mark Hamblett, "2nd Circuit Hears Arguments on Letting NYC's Gun Suit Go to Trial, New York Law Journal, Sept. 24).

Quoted in Chicago Tribune


On the subject of Hizzoner and the gun litigation (James Oliphant, "Giuliani hitches star to conservative legal group", Sept. 6).

Last year, New York City Mayor Bloomberg filed federal lawsuits against bunches of gun stores across the country; we've covered these suits extensively. (See, e.g. May 2006, Jun. 2006), Sep. 2006). NYC sent people to stores in places such as Georgia, Ohio, Virginia and South Carolina; these city agents then conducted "stings" in which they made supposedly illegal firearms purchases. Bloomberg then sued these stores, claiming that the guns were ending up in New York City and that the stores should for some reason be liable for this.

Somehow, despite the fact that whatever illegal sales took place did so in Georgia, Ohio, Virginia and South Carolina, the suit ended up in the Brooklyn courtroom of federal Judge Jack Weinstein, the man who has never seen a products liability case he couldn't endorse. The gun stores moved to dismiss the suits on the grounds that New York courts have no jurisdiction.

Last week, Weinstein rejected the gun stores' motion in a 99 page opinion (PDF) replete with anti-gun rhetoric (about criminals who "terrorize" the city and descriptions of guns as "Saturday Night Specials") and citations to his own decisions in previous gun-litigation cases (Jul. 2003) So the suits will continue; a trial date has been set for January.

Republican presidential-non-candidate Fred Thompson doesn't think much more of these suits than we do.

Water pistols would be included if they looked realistic, and, according to a critic of the bill, parents might be breaking the law, which carries prison penalties, just for giving their offspring one of the forbidden playthings as a gift. Several states have already enacted similar bans. (7Online/WABC, Jul. 11).

Giuliani and the gun litigation


Something you'd think he'd want to address/get out of the way/rethink/apologize for sooner rather than later, since it calls into question his judgment in a whole range of different ways (Jacob Sullum, Reason "Hit and Run", Apr. 12; "The Right to Hunt in Montana", Reason/syndicated, Apr. 11). Earlier: Jun. 21 and Jun. 28, 2000, etc.

John Edwards may not be the only plaintiff's attorney in the White House race:

Mr. Thompson [Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., much buzzed about as a late-entering Republican possibility] has also been criticized for failing to back some comprehensive tort-reform bills because of his background as a trial lawyer. Here he insists his stance was based on grounds of federalism. "I'm consistent. I address Federalist Society meetings," he says, noting that more issues should be left to the states. For example, he cast the lonely "nay" in 99-1 votes against a national 0.8% blood alcohol level for drivers, a federal law banning guns in schools, and a measure limiting the tort liability of Good Samaritans. "Washington overreaches, and by doing so ends up not doing well the basics people really care about." Think Katrina and Walter Reed.
(John Fund, "Lights, Camera . . . Candidacy?",, Mar. 17).

On Sen. Thompson's behalf, it can be said that he did co-sponsor the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which was enacted into law after he left the Senate. Thus he presumably recognizes that in some situations, federal action can be necessary and proper to prevent a few state courts from imposing their views on the unwilling citizens of distant states. One hopes Thompson also goes so far as to realize that federal curbs on state-court litigation in those circumstances do not necessarily infringe on proper precepts of federalism and decentralization, but in fact can work in defense of them, by protecting the right to self-government of sister states and their citizens. The question is whether he has gone on to consider that quite a few other federal interventions into state-court litigation, in such areas as class actions, product liability and punitive damages, can be defended on very similar grounds (namely, that they are needed to restrain state courts from exporting their legal doctrines to other states) and thus are entirely consistent with "good federalist" precepts.

Individual gun rights

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Stuart Taylor, Jr., finds Judge Silberman's Second Amendment opinion in Parker v. District of Columbia persuasive ("A Right to Keep and Bare Arms?", National Journal, Mar. 19, will rotate off soon).

Giuliani's Achilles' Heel?


Such an appealing candidacy in most other ways -- but then one remembers his stance on gun litigation as mayor and, in particular, the insults to federalism he was willing to endorse at the time. A simple "I was wrong" would work wonders (NRO "The Corner", Feb. 2).

The concealed-carry bogeyman

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"Lots of kids, when very young, worry about monsters under the bed. Even when Mom or Dad comes in to reassure them, the kids may still worry. But as they get older, they begin to check under the bed themselves. And eventually, after many monster-free nights, they figure out that the danger is purely imaginary and they stop worrying. You would think by now that gun-control supporters would have made the same progress on one of their most fearsome demons: the licensing of citizens to carry concealed firearms. But they seem to be trapped in a recurring nightmare that exists only in their minds." (Steve Chapman, "Concealed weapons a threat - to ignorance", syndicated/Baltimore Sun, Nov. 29).

Taser as cause of death

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Lisa Kohler, the medical examiner of Summit County, Ohio, twice listed Taser stun-guns as a contributing factor in the deaths of area men who came out on the losing side in confrontations with police. So now the company that makes Tasers is suing her. (Phil Trexler, "Taser sues Summit medical examiner", Akron Beacon Journal, Nov. 18). MedPundit is dubious about the suit's merits (Nov. 18).

Gun rights, in many languages


Gun control groups and transnational bureaucracies sympathetic to their cause imagined that it would be easy work to float new treaties and other initiatives restricting gun sales and ownership. Then 64 percent of Brazilians voted against a gun ban, and an unwelcome truth began to dawn on them: talk of individual rights is not just something for Americans. (Joshua Kurlantzick, "Idea Lab: Global Gun Rights?", New York Times Magazine, Sept. 17).

Bloomberg's gun lawsuits

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They're "beginning to look like a fiasco", opines David Hardy (Aug. 31):

A second dealer has filed a counter-suit in his home state, a NY dealer they charged with criminal offenses had to be let off with disorderly conduct (in most states, about a minor a misdemeanor as they have), they seized guns from that dealer but had to return them, the city has settled with two on terms that have them audited by a special master (whom the city has to pay)... oh, and a third dealer now says he's going to sue.

More details: Bradley Hope, "Gun Dealer Hits Bloomberg on Sting Operation", New York Sun, Aug. 31.

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