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Judge dismisses lawsuit against gunmaker, S&W and Glock settle suit.

In a surprise ruling in early May, a California Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit against Navegar that sought to hold the gunmaker liable for the mass killings in a San Francisco law office.

Navegar is the parent company of Intratec, manufacturer of the TEC 9, one of two guns used by Gian Luigi Ferri in 1993 to kill eight people and wound six others before committing suicide.

In 1995, Superior Court Judge James Warren ruled that the victims and their survivors could proceed in building a case against Navegar. In May, Warren dismissed the case.

"The court's decision is a sound and rational one," said Richard Feldman, American Shooting Sports Council. "It rejects the politically and emotionally driven efforts of those who seek, through litigation, to ban the manufacture, sale and ownership of firearms by holding the gun industry liable for the criminal actions of third parties."

The favorable ruling has national implications. If the case had gone to trial, as was expected, and Navegar had been held liable, every misuse of a firearm, or related products, that caused injury or death would immediately involve a lawsuit. Manufacturers would not be the only targets. Distributors and dealers also would be named. Likely, even gun owners who sold or loaned a firearm that eventually was used in a crime or accident would be held liable.

While there's reason to celebrate the ruling, we need to take care not to flaunt the victory. It's well to remember that those who brought the suit have suffered tremendous losses. At the same time, as Feldman noted, "Their grief should not be used to blame and victimize innocent third parties. We're all saddened by such tragic events, but Navegar could not foresee, predict nor prevent the criminal acts of a madman."

Feldman and Bob Ricker, also of the ASSC, were in the courtroom when Warren made his ruling.

"The judge did the right thing. He followed the law and you have to give him a lot of credit," said Ricker. "Hopefully, those out there who seek out these types of cases just to make money will move on."

The ruling also flies against the popular trend of blaming others instead of holding individuals responsible for their actions. Let's hope Judge Warren's common-sense action becomes widespread.

S&W And Glock Settle Suit

The Glock vs. Smith & Wesson lawsuit is history. After nearly three years of legal posturing, S&W has agreed to a multimillion dollar settlement and a slight modification to the Sigma Series Pistols.

To no one's surprise, Glock sued Smith & Wesson in early 1994. claiming "tortious acts, including without limitations, patent infringement, federal unfair competition, common unfair competition and deceptive trade practices."

S&W returned the salvo with "We firmly believe the suit to be totally without merit and will act accordingly."

Glock also sent an ultimatum to its dealers, giving them 15 days to decide on which to ca,y, the Glock or the Sigma. "If your decision is to continue to distribute Smith & Wesson products, your contractual relationship with Glock Inc. will be terminated," read the message.

In the end, Smith and Wesson agreed to "remove the surface located below the sear in the Sigma Series Pistols, which Glock contends is a positive guide means, and Glock has agreed that such a modification would resolve the patent infringement claim."

While no one in an official position is willing to say how much S&W will pay Glock, informed sources put the figure at between $5 and $8 million.

Honoring The Best

The Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence presented its 1997 awards at a special reception in Seattle in early May. In its sixth year, the academy has grown significantly in prestige. Throughout the industry, the word is out: This really is an award for excellence selected by academy members. It's not a "Good-Old-Boy-Network" Award, or a "I'll-Win-This-Year,-You-Win-Next-Year" Award, or "I-Bought-The-Most-Advertising" Award.

Each year, right after the awards are announced, I receive numerous calls asking. "How can we win one of the awards?" Simple: Make a great product, develop effective promotion, provide excellent service, and serve the industry. Then it's up to the academy.

It's actually a comfort that I don't have a vote to determine who receives an award. (Neither does anyone at Shooting Industry or Publishers' Development Corp., publishers of SI.) It takes a lot of pressure off me and our staff. I do vote, privately. Thus far, I'm at an 80 percent match with the academy. Often, my selections don't make the top three academy nominees. So, what do I know?

The 300 members of the academy are leaders from throughout the industry, including manufacturers, distributors, dealers and outdoor writers. We're particularly proud of the number of dealers who have joined the academy. There are now 130 dealers in the academy and we're looking for more. Dealers have a keen insight into what really is excellent.

If you'd like to become a member of the academy or to receive more information, contact Academy Director Randy Molde, Academy of Excellence, 591 Camino de la Reina, Suite 200, San Diego, CA 92108; (760) 297-7773, Fax: (760) 297-5353.

The Latest Production Figures

Next month in Shooting Industry, we'll publish our annual "Firearms Business Analysis." More than just throwing out a ton of numbers, we'll examine trends, reveal significant shifts in production areas, compare import and export levels and explore the impact of all the data on the industry today and take a daring look at the future.

The foundation for the analysis are reports from the ATF and the Foreign Trade Division of the Bureau of Census. Without going in to details, it will come as no surprise that there are some notable changes in the number and types of guns being produced during the past few years.

While examining such data isn't the only factor to be considered in making business decisions, it provides invaluable insight into the state of the shooting industry.

The NRA Ends Strife

The embarrassing year-long back-stabbing and bickering within the highest ranks of the NRA is over, we hope. In a dramatic turn of events, Charlton Heston came down from the mountain in Seattle to gain a seat on the NRA board of directors and ousted Neal Knox as the first vice president.

Despite the "all has been well" attitude of NRA officials, the infighting and power struggles have hurt the effectiveness of the organization. The general public has seen the squabbling for what it's been, petty, and the anti-gun crowd has been delighted.

We badly need this grand organization to regain its credibility and prominence on the national scene. Key to achieving that is unified leadership. Heston, again, has been chosen to lead the way out of the wilderness.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Publishers' Development Corporation
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Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Thurman, Russ
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Jun 1, 1997
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