The following is from a message posted to the Paul Revere Net email list by Andy Barniskis.


I received the following anonymously in the mail. It appeared to be a clipping from the Temple University Alumni newsletter.

In case you were wondering who was responsible for the idea of cities suing gunmakers -- now you know.

It sounds like Temple Law is quite proud of themselves.  Perhaps if you have a connection to Temple, you can let them know what you
think of their man.

Think in terms of turnabout being fair play.

"Pay'em back, blow for blow,
give'em back, woe for woe. . ."



"Lawyers, Guns and Money" was the intriguing title of a continuing legal education course offered by the Temple Law Alumnae Association November 4.  Over 60 practicing attorneys, city officials, law professors, and other interested partiesrs, and other interested parties attended the program to hear Professor David Kairys, who pioneered the novel legall approaches many cities are currently using to take the gun industry to court.

The Wall Street Journal dubbed Kairys "The Strategist" in an October 21 article entitled "The Big Bang," detailing the genesis of the epidemic of law suits being brought by cities against gun manufacturers. The course was co-taught by Professor Scott Burns, who assisted Kairys in the early research phase of developing the strategy, and is an expert on the "nuisance laws" on which much of the legal theory is based.

Kairys' involvement in the issues dates back to 1996, when he was invited to join a mayoral commission on youth violence in Philadelphia. Kairys, who practiced in the areas of civil rights and free speech cases at the finn of Kairys, Rudovsky, Epstein, Messing and Rau in addition to teaching, began investigating the legal tools for curbing the availability of guns in the inner city.

Kairys felt that suits on behalf of individual victims were doomed, saying, "When you focus attention on particular shootings, there's always that person pulling the trigger who is more immediately to blame for the bloodshed."  It dawned on him that just as state attorneys general had gone to court against the tobacco industry,obacco industry, municipal governments could sue the gun industry and demand reimbursement for the costs incurred by easy access to guns: emergency medical and police services.  In early 1997, Kairys drafted a secret memo that would eventually cause shock waves in cities across the nation, proposing that Philadelphia take the gun industry to court.  When Philadelphia's Mayor Edward Rendell was slow to commit to the suit and the memo was eventually leaked to the press, Kairys' phone started ringing.

Kairys is now legal adviser to most of the 28 municipalities that have sued so far, including Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The cities' claims are based on two sets of factual allegations.  First, the cities assert that the gun manufacturers have failed to incorporate several available safety measures and have failed to develop others not yet available, such as modified safety locks, "chamber-loaded" indicators, or personalized guns.  Second, the cities allege that the manufacturers have established a market and distribution system that facilitates easy access to guns by criminals and young people. The claims rest on a public nuisance, negligence, and products liability basis, and the defenses span the usual range for such torts.

uch torts.

The November 4 seminar focused on the novel claims by cities currently pending in state and federal courts around the country.  Kairys and Burris introduced the origins and development of these tort claims and the defenses being raised and examined some of those specific defenses in more detail.

Kairys graduated from Columbia University School of Law in 1968 and received his LL.M. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971. He has taught constitutional law and civil rights at Temple since 1990. He is author of With Liberty and Justice for Some: A Critique of the Conservative Supreme Court. His most recent book is the 1998 edition of The Politics of Law.

Burris has been teaching torts and public health law at Temple Law since 1991.  Much of his work is related to the HIV epidemic, focuses on how law can be used to prevent disease and injury.  He frequently advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on legal issues in public health, and is currently working under a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to identify changes in drug law that could reduce HIV among injection drug users.

Internet: (Andy Barniskis)
dy Barniskis)
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