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Two more cities sue gun manufacturers

Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Gamin hopes to recover costs of gun violence by suing gun makers

CNN's Allan Dodds Frank examines the municipal movement against guns
Windows Media 28K 80K
January 27, 1999
Web posted at: 11:24 p.m. EST (0424 GMT)

From Correspondent Allan Dodds Frank

BRIDGEPORT, Connecticut (CNN) -- The anti-handgun movement took another step Wednesday as the cities of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Miami-Dade County, Florida, filed suits against gun manufacturers, following the path blazed by New Orleans, Chicago and other cities.

The cities hope to recover the costs they incurred because of gun violence. The suits are pushed by lawyers who helped states sue the tobacco industry, winning nearly $250 billion in settlements.

"By taking this action, we are saying to the handgun industry, 'From now on, you are responsible for the costs associated with your dangerous products,'" said Mayor Joseph Gamin of Bridgeport.

"Gun makers must shoulder the costs that taxpayers have carried alone until now. But more importantly, they must make dramatic changes to protect the unintended victims of their deadly products," said Mayor Alex Panelas of Miami-Dade County.

Like the tobacco suits, these gun cases rely on novel legal theory -- that the product itself is a public nuisance and not as safe as it could be.

New Orleans, for instance, blames the companies for not equipping guns with better safety devices. Chicago blames them for making guns accessible to criminals.

But the gun industry says the cases don't hold up.

"It is a naked attempt at gun control. It is not hidden whatsoever," said Paul Jannuzzo, general counsel and vice president for Glock. "When you do away with the commercial market, in their best-case scenario, by bankrupting the gun manufacturers, the only people that are going to have (guns) are police officers."

Gamin says he hopes cities across the nation will join the legal battle, and he says the Mayor's Conference will look at ways to sue nationally on behalf of all municipalities.

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