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Friday, November 13, 1998 Published at 03:25 GMT

World: Americas

Chicago aims for gun companies

Chicago: Gun sales are illegal in city limits

The authorities in Chicago are to sue US gun-makers and dealers for the cost of criminal violence in the city.

Chicago Tribune Reporter Abdon Pallasch: "17,000 illegal handguns confiscated a year"
The Chicago action for $433m says the firearms industry knowingly markets and distributes guns so they fall into the hands of criminals.

It alleges gun-makers have created a public nuisance by flooding the streets with weapons.

Chicago mayor Richard Daley said: "Gun manufacturers and dealers are profiting off the activities of criminals in Chicago."

Mr Daley said undercover police officers posing as gang members had bought dozens of weapons at suburban stores ranging from pistols to machine guns.

New Orleans case

It is the second time in a month that the American gun industry has been taken to court by a big city.

A case filed by New Orleans claims that guns are defective products dangerous to public health.

It argues that guns are defective because they lack safeguards designed to prevent injury or loss of life.

Gang members

In Chicago, Mr Daley said the public nuisance claim should be easier to prove than New Orleans' product liability suit.

Chicago names 22 manufacturers, 12 gun shops and four individual gun distributors in its action.

Mr Daley said the suburban shops sell to gang members who cannot buy weapons in Chicago, which has some of the toughest gun laws in the US.

He said manufacturers pour supplies into suburban shops far outweighing the demand, knowing the real market is gang-plagued Chicago.

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