New York becomes first state to sue gun makers

NEW YORK - The state of New York filed suit Monday claiming gun manufacturers and wholesalers created ''a condition of danger,'' making it the first state to sue the firearms industry.

The state is seeking changes in the way manufacturers market and distribute guns, but its lawsuit does not ask for monetary damages.

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

New York's suit, however, takes advantage of a state law that says illegal guns are a public nuisance. It was filed in State Supreme Court, a trial-level court in New York.

''We have to show that in their pursuit of profits, they created and maintained a condition of danger in our state,'' New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said at a news conference.

More than a year ago, Spitzer began talks aimed at persuading gun makers 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 firearms they sell, introduce ''smart gun'' technology within three years and prohibit the sale of weapons at gun shows without background checks.

In March, the nation's largest maker of handguns, Smith & Wesson, agreed to adopt the code of conduct. It was not named in the New York state suit.

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 that upheld the code of conduct. In May, the gun industry ended negotiations that had been aimed at settling the local-government suits.

Spitzer said the suit by the industry prompted his action.

Among the manufacturers named in the New York lawsuit are Glock, Beretta U.S.A., Colt's Manufacturing Co., Taurus, Ruger & Co. and Inratec.


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