NEW YORK: More than 160 years after Sam Colt invented the revolver, the company that bears his name is getting out of the consumer handgun business in order to avoid gun-related lawsuits.
Newsweek magazine reported that by the end of the month Colt's Manufacturing Company Inc would lay off 300 of the 700 union workers at its Hartford, Connecticut-area plant and focus on manufacturing military and collectible guns.
"We have to focus on what we know we can make money on, without taking that risk," a Colt executive told the magazine. "It's extremely painful when you have to withdraw from a business for irrational reasons."
Colt is the biggest victim so far in the budding legal war on gun manufacturers resulting from lawsuits brought by victims of crime and municipalities suing to force gun makers to pay the cost of gun-related crimes. So far, 29 US cities have filed suit against the industry.
Colt was among eight firms named in a lawsuit filed last month by the city of Wilmington, Delaware.
But last week, in what was seen as a minor victory for the gun industry, a judge in Cincinnati threw out that city's suit against gun makers, saying he had no authority over the issue. He said it more appropriately belonged in the legislature. The city is appealing the ruling.
The company that grew out of Sam Colt's 1830s invention of a firearm capable of firing without reloading, entered into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1992, but emerged from bankruptcy in 1994 when a new group of investors purchased the firm.