In another spectacular rebuke for the proponents of gun-control-through-litigation, the Illinois Supreme Court has unanimously tossed out both Chicago’s lawsuit and a lawsuit by private parties seeking to hold gun companies liable for “negligent marketing” and alleging that sales of guns at suburban gun shops constitute a public nuisance along the lines of smoke or stray animals. (John O’Connor, “Chicago gun suits tossed”, AP/Chicago Tribune, Nov. 18). Chicago’s case had been thrown out by a trial court (see Sept. 20, 2000) and then reinstated by an appeals court before yesterday’s denouement. The Illinois Supreme Court is considered among the nation’s most unfriendly by business defendants, but Chicago’s theories were too extreme and too unrooted in precedent to pass muster even there. (City of Chicago v. Beretta; Young v. Bryco Arms). Smallest Minority has much more on the decisions (Nov. 18).
Most of the 30+ municipal gun suits have now been dismissed, but the burden of fighting the litigation has been a crushing one for many defendants, which are often small and family-owned. Their tormentors in the Brady Campaign and other anti-gun groups — funded by George Soros as well as deep-pocketed foundations — show no signs of relenting in their strategy of filing an unending series of flimsy suits in an attempt to achieve through lawyering what voters have denied them at the ballot box. Federal pre-emption, as discussed yesterday, is thus more needed than ever; and it would also help if courts began considering the issuance of sanctions against the groups that file such meritless suits. Update Nov. 22: Steve Chapman comments.