Last week, six Indiana Legislators filed a friend of the court brief today supporting gun manufacturers in their defense of a suit brought by the City of Gary to make gun manufacturers liable for illegal gun use in Gary. Senators Jim Tomes, Mark Messmer, Dennis Kruse, and Representatives Ben Smaltz, Jerry Torr, and Greg Steuerwald filed the amicus brief in the Indiana Court of Appeals in City of Gary v. Smith & Wesson Corp. These legislators played instrumental roles in the passage of Indiana state laws that prevents lawsuits seeking to impose liability on firearms manufacturers, distributors, and dealers for illegal gun use.
In 1999, the City of Gary filed a lawsuit against the Smith & Wesson Corporation and other gun manufacturers, alleging a public nuisance due to their sale of firearms in Gary and seeking damages and an injunction requiring manufactures and dealers to provide proper training of employees and to add certain safety features to their products. This case remained pending for nearly 19 years until this past January, when a Lake County Superior Court finally dismissed it in favor of the gun manufacturers. The court held that “[t]he Gun Manufacturers are immune from liability for all the claims brought by the City of Gary in this lawsuit under both federal and Indiana State law.” More precisely, the court found the firearms industry was immune from suit under IC § 34-12-3-3, the immunity statute, sponsored by the amici Indiana legislators.
The amicus brief asserts that Indiana’s State Constitution, and various legislative provisions, including the immunity statute, prohibit any municipality from regulating firearms and preempts any local government regulation of these industries. The filing of this case, and the City of Gary’s use of the Indiana court system as a tool to effect such regulation of firearms, clearly violates Indiana’s Separation of Powers Doctrine.
“Indiana’s Legislative Branch is the sole entity tasked with law-making authority by the Indiana State Constitution, has sovereignty over all political subdivisions and local governments and determines what those governments can and cannot regulate,” stated James Bopp, Jr., of The Bopp Law Firm of Terre Haute, IN, Lead Counsel for the Legislators. “Gary’s lawsuit not only exceeds its authority, but has served as a threat to the firearm industry—inhibiting them from expanding their corporate footprint into Indiana because of the risk that Gary would punish them with a costly injunction. This is clearly unlawful and it is way past time to put an end to this attack by the City of Gary on Hoosier’s Second Amendment rights.”
The amicus brief of the Indiana Legislators can be found at www.bopplaw.com
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