Firearms Industry's Last Chance
Commentary by Richard W. Stevens, Esq.
Read this sentence twice: Your rights are meaningless if
you can’t afford to exercise them.
The current wave of lawsuits against gun makers and sellers
might well kill the Second Amendment. If the lawsuits succeed,
most Americans will not be able to afford to keep and bear arms.
Their Constitutional right will be dead.
Using civil lawsuits, the anti-firearms lobby might well
prevent average, non-violent, law-abiding Americans from
obtaining firearms and ammunition. Lawsuits pending in New
Orleans, Chicago, and other cities seek to hold gun manufacturers
and sellers liable for the criminal or negligent misuse of
firearms by others.
It’s real simple. Person A unlawfully shoots Person B.
Person B goes to the hospital. The City pays the bill, because
Person B is poor. The City groups all of the cases like this
together and sues the manufacturers and distributors of the
firearms to get the money for the hospital bills. Multiply the
lawsuits by the number of cities who use this tactic.
To defend these suits, according to a Washington Post
report, the firearms industry might hire the same law firms and
lawyers who represented the tobacco companies. Several states
had sued the tobacco companies for the costs of caring for low-
income smokers. The tobacco companies lost.
President Clinton has just announced he would order the
Justice Department to sue the tobacco companies again. The
multi-hundred billion dollar settlement of the state lawsuits did
not protect the tobacco companies from a future federal lawsuit.
If they use the same tobacco company defense lawyers and the
same old strategies, then the firearms industry can expect to
lose. Defense lawyers, as a breed, usually focus on the
plaintiff’s legal allegations and try to defeat them. That
short-term approach lets the plaintiff define the terms of the
lawsuit. Unless the defense lawyers win these cases decisively
and early (by rarely-successful motions to dismiss), the
litigation must continue all the way to settlement or trial.
Then comes the flood of lawsuits. Win or lose, the costs of
defending the suits mount. Jury verdicts and lawsuit costs tax
the industry and drive insurance premiums sky high. Guns and
ammunition will become either much more expensive or
Huge corporations, like Dow Corning, have folded in recent
years because of litigation. Firearms companies are next.
The firearms industry needs to take control of these
lawsuits by taking control of the whole "gun control" debate.
They need to mount a public relations campaign that reaches
average Americans. The campaign must cause people to view these
lawsuits as crazy and dangerously un-American -- and it must
destroy the credibility of gun prohibitionists.
Here’s step one of the plan. Run advertising that makes
these simple gut-level points:
Firearms protect many times more lives than are lost to
criminal violence. (Dramatize the statistics from Professors
Kleck and Lott, and use actual first-person stories.)
"Gun control" is a racist policy. (Use the actual stories
and laws described in JPFO’s
"Gun Control" Is Racist
It is silly to sue the maker of a product for injuries
caused by criminals and others who deliberately or carelessly
misuse it. (Remember when the burglar sued the homeowner for
Every American must receive these messages. Daily. On the
radio, in the magazines and newspapers, in direct mail flyers, on
the backs of coupons, on billboards, on television. The firearms
industry and lovers of liberty must unite, and they must
permanently plant these messages into the mainstream of American
understanding. Most Americans are uncomfortable with dangerously
silly and/or racist ideas. Because of this, all Americans, and
most especially juries, should instinctively distrust these
JPFO has the information and materials available to
launch the campaign right now. The firearms industry can win
-- but only if they change the terms of the debate.
About the author, Richard Stevens
This article comes to you courtesy of JPFO, Inc., America's aggressive,
no-compromise, civil rights organization. JPFO offers books, booklets, children's
materials, timely articles, billboard messages and Internet e-mail alerts. Bold
strategies using these materials can motivate all Americans to celebrate and
preserve all of the Bill of Rights for all citizens -- including the fundamental
right to keep and bear arms. Contact JPFO at P.O. Box 270143, Hartford, WI
53027 or by calling (262) 673-9745. Website: