Governor Signs Bill Negating Controversial Lawsuit

( Governor Eric Holcomb of Indiana dealt a significant blow to the city of Gary’s long-standing legal battle against major firearm manufacturers. Indiana lawmakers passed a bill just days before that prohibits cities and other political subdivisions from suing firearm or ammunition manufacturers, dealers, or sellers over alleged flaws in their products’ design or marketing.

The newly signed House Bill 1235 (HB 1235) bans lawsuits retroactively filed on or after August 27, 1999, effectively ending Gary’s nearly 25-year-old lawsuit. With the law taking immediate effect upon Governor Holcomb’s signature, Gary’s legal pursuit is effectively ended, although the city will likely challenge the legislation in court.

Governor Holcomb said the new law would end Gary’s lawsuit, aligning with the preferences of the Republican-controlled General Assembly. He emphasized that while the legislation doesn’t prevent families or businesses from legally challenging gun manufacturers or sellers, it ensures that only the state, not political subdivisions, can initiate such lawsuits in the future.

State Senator Rodney Pol, who serves as an attorney for the city of Gary, expressed deep disappointment over the Legislature’s decision to thwart Gary’s lawsuit. He argued that the city deserves its day in court, characterizing the bill as a shield for major industries against accountability.

A status conference for Gary’s gun lawsuit is scheduled for May 8 before Lake Superior Judge John Sedia in Hammond.

Critics call Gary’s lawsuit a politically driven maneuver that has lingered in the legal system for over two decades. However, the passage of HB 1235 is anticipated to end the lawsuit, which aims to hold the firearms industry responsible for criminal actions. Despite previous legal challenges, including federal legislation and state bills, the Indiana courts have sustained the lawsuit’s viability until now.

HB 1235 effectively extends the state’s firearm preemption law, placing gun policy solely within the purview of the Legislature and prohibiting political subdivisions from enacting their gun control measures. The Indiana Attorney General’s office is designated as the sole entity authorized to pursue such litigation in the future, thwarting attempts by the gun control lobby to recruit Democrat-controlled cities for similar lawsuits.

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