Dennis Henigan of the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence argues in an Oct. 29 op-ed column that the cities' lawsuits against the firearm industry are not a circumvention of the democratic process.

The suits are being brought not by persons injured because a firearm failed to function properly nor by the victims of crime who seek redress based on an act or omission that can be proven to have caused their injury. Instead, these suits are brought by local governmental bodies that have it within their power to regulate the issues against which now they complain.

Congress and state legislatures across the country have considered and have acted upon--sometimes by rejecting--many of the points raised in the city lawsuits. The distribution of firearms is one of the most heavily regulated activities in this country.

Design considerations have been similarly addressed at the state and federal level. Mr. Henigan laments that Congress exempted firearms from the regulatory authority of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, but Congress did not want firearm design control--and thus the potential to ban firearm manufacture--in the hands of a few regulators, an affirmative act to protect the 2nd Amendment.

Congress's wisdom was confirmed when Handgun Control Inc. petitioned the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban, not handguns (since this would not be allowed), but handgun ammunition (an effort which was rejected by the courts).

The city lawsuits are an attempt by a handful of local officials to federalize their judgments about firearm issues without the approval of the American electorate. That is why the suits are undemocratic.

JEFFREY K. REH

General Counsel

Beretta U.S.A. Corp.

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