NEWTOWN, Conn. -- The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) -- the trade association for the firearms industry -- lauded a decision yesterday by the Illinois Supreme Court that dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit filed in 2001 against firearms manufacturer Beretta U.S.A. Corp. arising out of a criminal shooting. The court ruled the case, Adames v Sheehan, was preempted by a 2005 federal law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which bars lawsuits against firearms manufacturers and retailers for the criminal misuse by others of lawfully sold firearms.
"The Illinois Supreme Court's decision recognized that federal law preempts misguided lawsuits that seek to blame manufacturers for the criminal acts of others," said Jeffrey K. Reh, Beretta USA Corp.'s general counsel and vice general manager.
Yesterday's ruling is the most recent in a series of major setbacks for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which represented the Adames family in the case. Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals of New York City and the District of Columbia appellate court decisions that dismissed lawsuits against firearms manufacturers for community-related gun violence. Those cities were also represented by the Brady Center and the cases similarly dismissed under the same federal law.
"That the Brady Center continues to solicit funds from donors to support these types of lawsuits in the face of stunning defeat after stunning defeat remains a triumph of illusion over fact," commented Reh.
Following the dismissal, the firearms industry urged the city of Gary, Indiana, which has sued several firearms manufacturers for gun violence, to drop its lawsuit:
"In light of the Illinois Supreme Court's decision yesterday, and the refusal of the United States Supreme Court to consider appeals by New York City and Washington D.C., we call upon the city of Gary to respect federal law and end its baseless lawsuit against responsible and law-abiding members of our industry," said Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
"In today's challenging economic times the taxpayers of Gary can ill-afford wasteful litigation that is barred by federal law and destined to fail because the allegations of wrongdoing are patently false. In passing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, Congress understood that these lawsuits defied common sense and were an abuse of the judicial system. Blaming firearms manufacturers for the criminal acts of others is tantamount to blaming car manufacturers for drunk driving."
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