N.Y. To Sue Gunmakers

Monday, June 26th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) — New York is poised to become the first state to sue the gun industry.

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer planned to file a lawsuit Monday against manufacturers and wholesalers of firearms, claiming they have violated the state's public-nuisance law.

Thirty-two cities and counties, including New York City, have filed suits against the industry. Many of those actions were filed as negligence claims.

The state's suit, to be filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, would take advantage of a New York law that states illegal guns are a public nuisance.

More than a year ago, Spitzer began talks aimed at persuading gunmakers to adopt a code of conduct and change manufacturing and distributing practices to prevent the flow of weapons to criminals.

The code asked gun makers to install gun locks on all the firearms they sell, introduce within three years ``smart gun'' technology and prohibit the sales of its weapons at gun shows without a background check.

In March, the nation's largest maker of handguns, Smith & Wesson, agreed to adopt the code of conduct and was dropped from the local-government lawsuits. It was not to be named in Spitzer's suit.

But in April, several other large gun companies sued Connecticut, New York and 16 local governments over their bid to have law enforcement agencies buy guns only from manufacturers who upheld to the code of conduct. In May, the gun industry ended negotiations aimed at settling the local government suits.

Spitzer said the suit by the gun industry prompted his action. Among the manufacturers he plans to name as defendants are Glock, Beretta U.S.A., Colt's Manufacturing Co., Taurus, Ruger & Co. and Inratec.