May 2003

Downrange: 05/03

JUNK LAWSUITS UNDER REVIEW. Congress is considering legislation that will stop lawsuits holding companies in the firearms industry responsible for the criminal misuse of legally sold guns. Forty-six Democrats are among 247 House members who originally co-sponsored H.R. 1036, introduced by Florida Congressman Cliff Stearns. And there are 52 co-sponsors of Senate bill 659, introduced last week by Idaho Senator Larry Craig, including nine Democrats with Minority Whip, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, among them. We strongly urge interested firearms enthusiasts and those who make a living from the responsible and safe use of firearms to write and call their representative in the House and both U.S. Senators to let them know how important it is that this vital legislation is passed quickly.

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NO REFUGE FOR HUNTERS. Animal-rights organizations are in court trying to prevent hunters from making use of the wildlife refuges they’ve been paying for since 1934. ABC News reports that the Fund for Animals is trying to prevent a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) determination to allow hunting in refuges, including 31 where the activity has not been previously allowed and 21 of them along the Mississippi flyway. USFWS argues that the wildlife preserves are made possible through $622 million collected from hunters in a federal duck-stamp tax that hunters asked for to help conserve wildlife populations.

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GOVERNOR EXPANDS GUN RIGHTS. Colorado Governor Bill Owens has signed into law Senate Bills 24 and 25. SB 24 requires sheriffs to issue carry permits to individuals who have taken handgun training and passed a fingerprint-based background check. SB 25 abolishes local registries of gun owners and prohibits local governments from enacting gun control ordinances and laws more restrictive than Colorado state law.

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CALIFORNIA JUDGE DISMISSES MULTIPLE LAWSUITS. California Superior Court Judge Vincent P. DiFiglia, hearing lawsuits filed by twelve California municipalities against the firearms industry, today granted a summary judgment for the industry.

“This is a definitive victory for us in a string of vindications that began a year ago when the City of Boston dropped its suit against the industry for lack of proof of wrongdoing,” said Lawrence G. Keane, vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc. (NSSF). “There was much excitement in recent weeks about unsupported allegations of industry wrongdoing from Mr. Robert Ricker, a former executive with a now-defunct trade association,” added Keane. “Mr. Ricker’s lame assertions can now be seen for what they were.”


-by Todd Woodard