Atlanta Mayor Campbell to Fight State Preemption of Gun Lawsuit; NRA Targets Louisiana and Other States for Possible Action
By Ed Somers
Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, who filed a lawsuit against the gun industry on February 4, has vowed to continue his effort despite the enactment of state legislation in Georgia designed to stop the lawsuit.
Following the passage of the Senate bill, which was pushed through the legislature by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and signed by Governor Roy Barnes on February 9, Mayor Campbell issued the following statement:
"We do not believe that it is legal for the Georgia General Assembly to prohibit cities from filing lawsuits designed to protect the public's interests. We do not believe the Senate Bill [which was signed by the Governor] will have any effect on the lawsuit we recently filed, because we are confident a court will rule that the bill is unconstitutional.
"We still believe the Senate and the House have sent the wrong message to the public. The real message the public needs to hear is that we as elected officials will do all that we can to protect the lives of our precious children and fellow citizens."
The legislation passed in Georgia would deny the right of any city or county to bring a product liability lawsuit against gun manufacturers, reserving the right to the state.
Mayor Campbell's suit is a product liability case similar to the New Orleans, Miami-Dade County and Bridgeport cases. In announcing the suit, Mayor Campbell stated, "I am also asking today that gun manufacturers join me in my objective of saving our children. I am inviting them to meet with me and talk about ways they might voluntarily agree to make their products safer."
The Mayor added, "If they are willing to negotiate, in good faith, acceptable provisions that will ensure that their products are made safer, with smart technology or mechanical locks, then I will consider dropping the lawsuit."
NRA Targets Other States
The NRA was prodded into engaging in this effort by the gun industry, led by organizations such as the American Shooting Sports Council which is a named plaintiff in several of the city lawsuits.
Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, who has been exploring a possible suit against the gun industry, has stated that state preemption laws regarding city actions on guns as those alleged in lawsuits filed by other cities already exist in Michigan. The Mayor and his legal team are continuing to evaluate legal theories under which the City can bring a lawsuit under the limitations imposed by the State of Michigan.