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April 29, 2011

For Anti-Gun Groups It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again

The “Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence” (Ed Fund) released a “report” entitled “Buying Power” that claims to detail “an exciting new strategy to reform the gun industry.” Unfortunately for members of the gun-ban lobby, this strategy is neither new nor legal.

Here’s what the Ed Fund says:

“A city purchasing firearms for its law enforcement department can use its buyer power to create incentives for gun manufacturers to employ “countermarketing” strategies to ensure that their retailers are using all available procedures to prevent illegal firearms trafficking. Such strategies might include videotaping firearms sales, preventing the use of cell phones inside gun stores, and requiring criminal background checks for all employees who handle firearms. Gun manufacturers would be obliged to listen and change their policies to compete for cities’ business.”

Here’s what the Ed Fund should know:

In March of 2000, then-Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo and then-New York Attorney General Spitzer conspired with various mayors and local government officials to use their market purchasing power to boycott firearms manufacturers unless the manufacturers first agreed to sign an arbitrary and politically motivated list of firearms regulations entitled the “Code of Conduct.” Spitzer said, “We want every appropriate government entity to agree to purchase firearms only from companies that have signed a comprehensive code of conduct.” Spitzer said the objective of the coalition was to “…boycott gun manufacturers who fail to adhere to a new safety code.” Although Spitzer’s recruitment efforts weren’t always successful, officials of numerous cities and local governments agreed to join the boycott.

In response to this blatantly illegal restraint of trade, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), along with several members of the firearms industry sued Andrew Cuomo, Eliot Spitzer and the local government officials who agreed to the boycott. The filing of the lawsuit stopped this illegal boycott dead in its tracks, as all defendants – Cuomo, Spitzer, and the mayors – quickly disavowed the boycott (NSSF, et al v. Cuomo, et al). And much like 11 years ago, NSSF stands ready to once again take legal action against any attempt to implement an illegal boycott. No doubt such an attempt to manipulate the free market will be frowned upon by law enforcement when they learn that gun control groups now want to dictate which firearms they carry to protect themselves and our communities and base those selections on political considerations, as opposed to which firearms are most reliable and have the features desired by law enforcement.

The entire Educational Fund “report” is nothing but a rehash of the decade old factually baseless allegations made by the Brady Center and greedy trial lawyers in their failed attempts to destroy and bankrupt the firearms industry through junk lawsuits which began in the mid to late 1990s. Fortunately, these junk lawsuits failed, but not before members of the industry were forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to successfully defend the cases. In fact, the Educational Fund’s “report” is based largely on an article published by Professor Gregory T. Gundlach (ironically pronounced “gunlock”), who was a paid expert witness for the NAACP in its failed lawsuit against the firearms industry that went to trial before Brooklyn, NY federal court judge Jack B. Weinstein in 2003. The “advisory jury” judge Weinstein empanelled to hear the case rejected Professor Gunlach’s “expert” opinions and rendered a verdict in favor of the industry members. The “report” also relies upon an article by law school Professor David Kairys, the father of the roundly discredited “public nuisance” theory of liability underlying the failed municipal lawsuits. All that is old is new again it seems.

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