- June 30 - The Violence Policy Center applauded today's landmark ruling by the
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which hands a major defeat to the gun industry
and paves the way for the nation's first consumer regulation of firearms.
The unanimous decision by
the state's highest court upholds Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly's
authority to enforce firearm design and safety regulations. The new rules crack
down on so-called "junk guns" or "Saturday night specials," and mandate safety
devices for firearms. The regulations were first issued in 1997 by former Attorney
General Scott Harshbarger, who developed them in consultation with the VPC.
From the start, gun manufacturers
challenged the regulations in court. The American Shooting Sports Council, an
industry trade group, was the lead plaintiff in the case. Today's decision comes
on the heels of February's verdict in federal court in Brooklyn holding gun makers
liable for negligent distribution of firearms.
"This is a double defeat
for the gun industry," said Kristen Rand, the VPC lawyer who worked on the regulations.
"Not only is this the industry's second major courtroom loss this year, but it
marks the first time in America that guns will be treated the same as every other
Federal law exempts guns
from consumer health and safety standards that apply to virtually every other
product in America, from toasters to jumbo jets. As a result, toy guns are regulated
while real guns are not.
"Gun makers fought tooth
and nail to preserve their deadly immunity from regulation and lost," Rand said.
"This is a very good omen for the lawsuits against the industry by major cities."
The Violence Policy Center is a national non-profit educational organization that
examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research on firearms violence,
and works to decrease firearm-related death and injury. More information about
the VPC is available on the Web at: www.vpc.org