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CNN Today

Blumenthal: Counter-Lawsuit Filed by Gunmakers Against Government 'Unfounded and Preposterous'

Aired April 26, 2000 - 2:33 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Gunmakers have fired a counter-lawsuit in retaliation for the barrage of legal challenges they face from federal, state and local governments. The National Shooting Sports Foundation and seven firearms companies filed that lawsuit today in federal court in Atlanta. They claim the lawsuits against the gun industry are politically motivated and an attempt to restrain trade.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB DELFAY, PRES., NATL., SHOOTING SPORTS FOUNDATION: Law enforcement professionals can no longer select and purchase the firearms of their choice, the best firearm for their particular situation, but can only obtain those that carry the politically correct stamp of Cuomo, Spitzer and cronies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATERS: Joining us on the line now with his reaction to being named in this lawsuit is Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, also called a crony by Mr. Delfay.

Your reaction to the lawsuit, General Blumenthal.

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, CONNECTICUT ATTORNEY GENERAL: My reaction to the lawsuit, first, is that its claim is completely false. Law enforcement will continue to be able to buy the firearms of their choice. Second, these claims are really legal blanks, a lot of smoke and noise, because there simply is no legal basis for any such claim. And we have an investigation ongoing into the apparent evidence of collusion among gun manufacturers directed at Smith & Wesson in retaliation for its agreeing to a code of conduct that is perfectly reasonable. And that is the basis, probably, for this unfounded and preposterous lawsuit, the desire to fend off that investigation.

WATERS: Do you have a clear understanding of the principles they are talking about as the foundation for this lawsuit? What is it that's preventing firearms from being purchased by law enforcement agencies, firearms of their choice?

BLUMENTHAL: There is no way to understood their claims simply because they are irrational and really designed to deceive and confuse the public. But they do show that the code of conduct and the preference that we are asking law enforcement agencies to show for Smith & Wesson products apparently is -- it's making them apprehensive and afraid that, in fact, law enforcement will be responsible in its purchases and will not buy from manufacturers that care nothing about gun safety or keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.

WATERS: I find it interesting that Smith & Wesson, the gun manufacturer that recently reached an agreement with the government over safety locks and other safety features, is not party to this lawsuit. What does that tell you?

BLUMENTHAL: Smith & Wesson is not party to this lawsuit because it has signed an agreement that clearly shows it wants to design safer weapons and keep them out of the hands of criminals and children. That is the essence of the agreement that Smith & Wesson signed with Connecticut, New York, other cities around the country, as well as the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the federal government generally. And the important point about that agreement is that it will have an effect in saving lives. And the gun manufacturing who have sued to try to inhibit, indeed, to discourage others from joining in that kind of agreement are doing a grave disservice to the industry, and, again, are showing their own vulnerability to the preferences among law enforcement for manufacturers that do have a respect for the public and public safety.

WATERS: Thank you, sir, for joining us.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

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