Maryland's highest court refused yesterday to reconsider its ruling that makers and sellers of Saturday Night Specials can be sued by victims of crimes committed with the cheap, small handguns.
The Court of Appeals, without explanation, turned down a request from four gun manufacturers and two groups representing gun owners that it review the Oct. 3 landmark decision.
In the earlier ruling, the seven-judge court held unanimously that gun manufacturers and sellers can be sued because they know, or should know, that Saturday Night Specials are used primarily by criminals.
The decision was the first in the nation ruling that manufacturers and retailers can be sued simply because a gun is ultimately used to commit a crime.
The liability question reached the Court of Appeals in a case filed by Olen J. Kelley of Silver Spring, who was shot during a 1981 supermarket holdup.
David Warner, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, said the next step probably will be to contest the ruling when the case comes up in U.S. District Court. He said legislation also will likely be introduced at the Maryland General Assembly session beginning in January to reverse the effects of the Court of Appeals decision.