Gunmaker May Be Held Liable, Calif. Court Says

A California appeals court in San Francisco ruled yesterday that the manufacturer of a TEC-9 assault pistol could be held liable for the death of eight people and the injury of six others in a man's 1993 shooting rampage in a San Francisco office.

The opinion reinstated a case, filed by relatives of the victims, that was dismissed by a lower court in 1997 on a motion for summary judgment. The TEC-9, which was also one of the weapons used in the Columbine High School shooting, was manufactured by Navegar Inc.

The ruling bolsters the position of 28 cities and counties that have sued gun manufacturers in the last year. "Navegar's knowledge of the extraordinary risks of misuse posed by the weapon as designed and marketed . . . created risks above and beyond those citizens may reasonably be expected to bear in a society in which firearms may legally be acquired and used and are widely available," the California appellate court said in its decision.

N.C. Bombings Prompt Caution

CHARLOTTE--Lowe's Cos., the second-largest U.S. hardware store chain, has boosted security at its stores nationwide after two bombings and the discovery of a third bomb at stores in North Carolina, a company spokesman said.

Federal agents confirmed a device found Tuesday in a Lowe's store in Concord, north of Charlotte, was a bomb, and investigated if it was similar to the devices that exploded in two other Lowe's stores in the state last week.

Two other bombs exploded within minutes of each other last Wednesday in the paint departments at Lowe's stores in nearby Salisbury and Asheboro, seriously injuring a woman in the Asheboro store.