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School of Law to Hold Daylong
Symposium on Guns and the Law
February 28, 2000

Each year, American cities spend millions of dollars paying for the costs associated with gun violence. Should gun manufacturers and dealers ultimately be held responsible and be expected to reimburse the municipalities?

An increasing number of cities, including Chicago, New Orleans and Detroit, believe they should be and have filed landmark lawsuits to hold the companies accountable for street crime. At the same time, the National Rifle Association is promoting a ban on urban lawsuits in the nation's statehouses. Last year, 15 states enacted the ban into law. The N.R.A. expects another 15 to 20 to do so before the conclusion of the current legislative session.

On Friday, March 3, lawyers, professors and authors will discuss both sides of the hotly contested issue at "Guns and Liability in America," the Spring 2000 Connecticut Law Review Wiggin & Dana Symposium. The symposium will take place in the Starr Hall Reading Room at the University of Connecticut School of Law in Hartford. It is free and open to the public.

Panelists include John R. Lott Jr., author of More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun-Control Laws; Anne Giddings Kimball, Smith & Wesson's attorney; and Robert R. Simpson, the lawyer representing Bridgeport, Conn., in its lawsuit against the gun industry.

The issue of gun liability will continue to garner national attention as politicians respond to the public's outcry for increased legislation, said James Gwinn, symposium editor for the Connecticut Law Review. Although the outcome of actions such as the N.R.A.'s push for the lawsuit ban and a judge's recent decision to throw out half of Chicago's lawsuit against gun dealers and manufacturers is not clear, it's apparent that the issue of gun liability will remain at the forefront.

"What is certain about the competing questions is the fact that compensation for injuries caused by potentially harmful products is going to continue to confront us for many years," Gwinn says.

The impact of urban lawsuits and proposed gun legislation is particularly powerful in states such as Connecticut, where gun manufacturing is a large part of the economy.

"The Law Review has selected the topic not only for the complex legal theories that it raises, but also because of the regional impact that firearms manufacturing plays in the northeastern United States," Gwinn says.

The daylong symposium begins at 9 a.m.

Allison Thompson