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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - "State lawmakers are close to retroactively terminating a 15-year-old lawsuit filed by the city of Gary against several gun manufacturers and retailers."

That was the lede to Dan Carden's story yesterday in the NWI Times. From the story:

State lawmakers are close to retroactively terminating a 15-year-old lawsuit filed by the city of Gary against several gun manufacturers and retailers.

The Republican-controlled House voted 72-23 on Tuesday for Senate Bill 98, which essentially goes back in time to prohibit Gary from seeking damages from the gun companies for their alleged complicity in the illegal retail sale of handguns.

State Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, the sponsor, said the lawsuit -- which has idled in the courts for the past six years -- is deterring gun makers from locating in Indiana because they believe the state is unfriendly to gun businesses, even though state law since 2001 has barred civil lawsuits against them.

"Having a viable firearms and ammunition industry is a compelling state interest, as is having a firearms industry that can provide law enforcement and the military with the equipment they need to keep the peace," Smaltz said.

Opponents of the measure said it is plainly unconstitutional and grossly interferes with the required separation of powers by having the Legislature and governor insert themselves in a pending court case.

"This bill is an abomination," said state Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis. "It's an insult to the legal system; it's an insult to the people of Gary and it will be one of the two or three most overreaching and wrong acts of this General Assembly."

The measure was revised Monday by the House to prohibit the gun companies from seeking reimbursement of their attorney fees from Gary.

As a result, it must again pass the Republican-controlled Senate or be sent to a House-Senate conference committee to devise a compromise version, subject to re-approval by both chambers.

ILB: Here are a number of earlier ILB posts on the Gary gun lawsuit and the bill to kill it.

[More] Here is Carole Carlson's Gary Post-Tribune story. It begins:

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson lashed out at the General Assembly for approving a bill to kill a long-standing Gary lawsuit against gun manufacturers and dealers.

The measure passed the House Wednesday by a 72-23 vote. Because an amendment was added, it moves back to the Senate for consideration.

"Manufacturers and dealers have essentially turned a blind eye to straw purchases and other illegal acts that ultimately result in gun violence, many times leading to death in the streets," said Freeman-Wilson. "Yesterday, the Indiana General Assembly gave them a license to continue their reckless behavior."

Freeman-Wilson called on Gov. Mike Pence to reject the bill.

"Over a year ago, he challenged us to make changes to our crime fighting efforts. This is a part of our new strategy," Freeman-Wilson said in a statement released Wednesday.

Written by a downstate lawmaker, the bill prohibits lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dealers, making it retroactive to 1999 when former mayor Scott King filed Gary's lawsuit.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 16, 2015 02:04 PM
Posted to Indiana Government