Curran Condemns Gun Industry Suit

April 28, 2000

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., today condemned the National Shooting Sports Foundation and several handgun manufacturers for filing suit this week against New York, Connecticut and 15 cities across the country.

"This lawsuit represents nothing short of a desperate attempt by members of the gun industry to retaliate against public officials who are taking steps to control gun violence--steps that may impact the industry's profits," Curran said. "I am outraged by this suit and will do everything in my power to encourage all law enforcement entities in the state of Maryland to purchase from Smith and Wesson."

The lawsuit was filed against states and municipalities who have agreed to give preferences in weapons purchasing to guns manufactured by responsible gun manufacturers, specifically those who have agreed to conform to a Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct requires that handgun manufacturers design guns that are not attractive to criminals, include simple and available safety features on all weapons manufactured and exert supervision and control over the dealers and distributors selling the products in the consumer market. The plaintiffs allege that granting preferences to responsible manufacturers who agree to abide by the Code violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution and interferes with interstate commerce.

Although Maryland was not named as a defendant, Curran strongly encourages Maryland State and local law enforcement agencies in the market for guns to give significant weight to a manufacturer's level of social responsibility as permitted within the procurement law; agreement to the Code of Conduct demonstrates a manufacturer's level of responsibility. "We want and expect State and local agencies to reward the courage of responsible gun manufacturers willing to work toward developing safer guns and, most importantly, agreeing to impose more stringent purchasing requirements," Curran said. "To that end, we stand in unison with New York, Connecticut and the many cities and towns who take seriously their obligations to reduce gun violence. By standing together we are not violating the so-called rights of the gun manufacturers; rather, we are protecting the innocent victims of gun violence."

The Antitrust Division of Curran's office is continuing its investigation into allegations of a collusive refusal to deal by gun industry firms and trade associations in response to the agreement between Smith and Wesson and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Several subpoenas for information have been served on manufacturers, distributors, dealers and trade associations in the gun industry. Depositions are underway in that investigation.

Media inquiries: Sean Caine (410) 576-6357