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The Wastefulness of the War on Guns By: Tanya Metaksa
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, October 17, 2001

TAXPAYERS as well as gun owners have to understand the cost in dollars of this ongoing effort by municipalities, counties, and states to engage in frivolous lawsuits against the firearms industry.  Using taxpayer dollars to go after a segment of legitimate commerce is not only selective discrimination based upon the manufacture and sale of a legal commodity, it is a costly exercise in pre-September 11 political correctness.

Since that tragedy, those of us who legally own and use firearms have found a new respect among our neighbors and colleagues.  As in times past, when civil strife or domestic unrest has surfaced in parts of the country, unarmed homeowners suddenly appreciate living near someone who owns a gun and knows how to use it. It has become an adjunct to homeowner’s insurance. 

Yet, the pendulum appeared to be swinging back to a more rational view of firearms, even before September 11.  This past summer, Montgomery County, MD, in a fit of political correctness, passed an ordinance forbidding facilities that receive county funding from hosting gun shows.  Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse, an affiliate of the group formerly called Handgun Control, Inc., and the now defunct Million Mom March, supported the restriction.  The ordinance was aimed at the Montgomery Agriculture Center, a privately owned facility that has used county money for capital improvements.  According to the Washington Post, Montgomery County Council President Blair Ewing, the main sponsor of the legislation, stated, "We need to distinguish its real purpose - to reduce the easy availability of guns."  Frank Krasner’s Silverado Productions has been holding gun shows at the Agriculture Center for over 10 years.  His shows have never been cited for any violations of Maryland’s strict gun control laws, which include a required background check for all purchasers.  After the vote on May 16, 2001, Krasner vowed to "see you in court."

On October 5, 2001 U.S. District Court Judge Marvin J. Garbis ruled that the county ordinance could not be enforced within the city of Gaithersburg because it was a gun show regulation "in the guise of a discretionary spending provision."  Council President Ewing, who had originally proclaimed, "We go to court a lot.  It doesn't bother me. I think we'll win," is now vowing to appeal, calling the judge "wrong" and his ruling an "unwarranted limitation on the council's authority."

So the suit goes on.  Leading to another example of government wasting taxpayer dollars on frivolous lawsuits.  Two days before Frank Krasner’s court victory in Maryland, the city of Bridgeport, which has been suing firearms’ manufacturers for three plus years, suffered a significant setback when the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the city of Bridgeport did not suffer direct losses from sales of firearms that were used in crimes.  The Connecticut justices upheld the 1999 dismissal of the suit by Superior Court Judge Robert F. McWeeny.  Even after this ruling, Bridgeport was still talking about appealing the decision.

The hope of a successful appeal by Bridgeport was shattered on October 9 when the US Supreme Court refused to hear any arguments in the case of New Orleans trying to circumvent the Louisiana law that barred cities from bringing frivolous law suits against the firearms industry.  After this setback even M. David Gelfand, the attorney for New Orleans, acknowledged that the suit had ended, as did Bridgeport Mayor Ganim.

Yet, Dennis Hennigan, the lawyer for the Brady Center, formerly Handgun Control, Inc., still had the audacity to try and spin the results favorably.  He was quoted as saying "You have cases going both ways. It's pretty much split down the middle."  The only way one comes up with that analysis is to assume that all the cases, which have not been decided, go against the firearms industry.  According to Bob Delfay, CEO of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, of 30 suits brought against the industry, 18 have been decided at one level or another, and 17 have been fully or partially dismissed in favor of firearms manufacturers.  Additionally, every appellate decision so far rendered in these cases, including decisions by the Supreme Courts of Louisiana and Connecticut and now the United States Supreme Court, has ruled in favor of the industry.  Somehow this is not a split decision.

In the case of frivolous lawsuits, it is the taxpaying citizenry who lose while greedy lawyers and liberal politicians promote an extreme agenda at the expense of legitimate American businesses.  It’s time for taxpayers and their watchdog groups to join gun owners and throw the wasteful spenders out.

Tanya K. Metaksa is the former executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action. She is the author of Safe, Not Sorry a self-protection manual, published in 1997. She has appeared on numerous talk and interview shows such as "Crossfire," the "Today" show, "Nightline," "This Week with David Brinkley" and the "McNeil-Lehrer Hour," among others.

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