The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and seven gun manufacturing companies announced at a Washington, DC, press conference on April 26 the filing of a suit the same day in federal court against Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Andrew Cuomo, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and the mayors and other officials of 14 municipalities, charging them with an illegal conspiracy in restraint of trade and in violation of the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution.
The seven gun companies joining NSSF in the suit are Beretta USA, Browning Arms, Colts Manufacturing, Glock Inc., SIGarms, Sturm, Ruger and Company, and Taurus International all of whom sell to law enforcement.
"The lawsuit arises from a politically-motivated scheme in which these bureaucrats have sought to bully law enforcement professionals into buying handguns based not on the quality or safety of the product, but on capitulation by the manufacturer to a regulatory agenda concocted by these officials," Robert Delfay, president of the NSSF, said at the National Press Club.
"We are here to expose a plan that brazenly places political self-interest above police and citizen safety," he said.
"Defendants Cuomo, Spitzer and others, through their individual and collective actions, are using tactics that some observers have characterized as financial extortion to force lawful, responsible manufacturers into knuckling under to their proposal for national gun control," Delfay said.
"These local officials have tried everything from litigation to economic extortion to compel compliance on a national level with their own individual ideas about gun design, ownership and distribution," Delfay said.
"That is wrong by any measure of law, ethics or fairness. Our democratic process is being perverted, the power vested in our elected leaders is being ignored and the Constitution is being trampled upon by HUD Secretary Cuomo and other defendants who have formed an improper alliance with a band of lawyers to sue us into submission."
The suit by NSSF and the firearms manufacturers was filed in federal district court in Atlanta, in part because the city of Atlanta, one of the defendants, has passed a resolution to only purchase firearms from manufacturers that follow the agreement sponsored by Cuomo. Another reason for filing in Atlanta is that Cuomo phoned to threaten Glock, which is located in the Atlanta suburb of Smyrna, GA, with economic damage if Glock did not accept the terms of the agreement HUD had engineered with Smith & Wesson in March.
Delfay detailed at the press briefing how Spitzer, Cuomo and the mayors were trespassing on the role of Congress, overriding many of the 20,000 state and federal gun laws governing firearms by using unconstitutional purchasing schemes to force the companies to turn over control of the issues and their basic corporate management to a committee of politicians and lawyers.
"The campaign of Cuomo, Spitzer and others may make good sound bites," Delfay said, "but it makes very bad public policy. It means that law enforcement professionals can no longer select and purchase the best firearm for their particular situationbut can only obtain those that have the politically correct stamp of Cuomo, Spitzer and their trial lawyer allies."
Delfay quoted the 65,000-member Law Enforcement Alliance of America (LEAA) with stating that "Law enforcement officers should not be used as political pawns," and the 288,000 member Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) with writing, "The top concern of a law enforcement agency purchasing firearms is officer safety, not adherence to a particular political philosophy."
Delfay focused on the hypocrisy of linking the agreement to gun locks when every single one of the companies already supplies gun locks. He also noted that no one had suggested that the guns dont function as advertised and no one has suggested that the companies had done anything illegal. "Only that they have had the conviction to stand firm in the face of an illegal barrage by a cartel of ambitious politicians and their trial lawyers," Delfay added.
"This is not about locks on guns or even gun safety. This is about Eliot Spitzer telling a homeowner in Iowa what gun he or she can buy, from whom and how," Delfay said, focusing on the interstate commerce issue.
During the press briefing, Delfay introduced George Link, chief coordinating counsel from the law firm of Brobeck, Phleger and Harrison, which is handling the case. Before Delfay and the attorney fielded questions, Link summarized key aspects of the lawsuit.
Link explained that the Complaint alleges that the imposition of the "Code of Conduct" violates the US Constitution for a number of reasons. Among these he listed:
The Complaint alleges five separate claims for relief.
The complaint seeks injunctive and declaratory relief.
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