NRA: NAACP gun suit aims at wrong target
July 13, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The NAACP, which is suing gun manufacturers in a bid to cut crime, has picked the wrong target, the National Rifle Association argues. The nation's oldest and largest civil rights group should be going after criminals, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told CNN on Tuesday.
He called on the NAACP to join with the NRA in supporting new, aggressive anti-gun measures being used in several cities.
Richmond, Virginia, for example, attributes its sharp drop in homicides to "Project Exile," an effort to put any felon caught carrying a gun in prison for five years.
"The NRA supports that," LaPierre said. "We helped start that program (which has had) a dramatic impact on cutting murder and saving lives."
The NAACP said Monday it would sue handgun manufacturers, distributors and importers in federal court later this week, seeking an injunction to restrict the marketing of firearms in hopes of keeping guns from criminals.
"Manufacturers are distributing their guns in a manner that gets them into the hands of criminals, so what we're saying is the negligence is in the distribution itself," NAACP attorney Josh Horwitz told CNN.
That allegation is not true, LaPierre responded in a separate interview. "There is not a gun manufactured in America," he said, "that is not sold through the national instant check system. What Mr. Horwitz said ... was simply wrong."
The instant background checks mandated by federal law are meant to keep felons from purchasing guns.
"(Horwitz) said that the manufacturers are subverting the instant-check system by selling at gun shows. He said there are dealers that are not doing the checks, selling out of cars. All that is simply incorrect," the NRA official insisted. "They don't know the law."
"Every gun manufactured in America has to go through the instant-check system, which the NRA supports, and has to have the government's A-OK stamp of approval on that sale," LaPierre said.
"What we're talking about here is a lawfully manufactured product," he said. "And what the NAACP is trying to do is hold a lawful manufacturer responsible for the criminal misuse of their product. If they make a defective product, they should be sued."
The NAACP's lawsuit follows the course already taken by 22 municipalities, including Boston, Chicago and New Orleans to use the courts to try to reduce gun-related violence and deaths.Reporter Jonathan Aiken contributed to this report, written by Jim Morris.
NAACP to sue gun makers
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