The Rundown: Lightfoot weighs suing gun manufacturers

Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. Youngrae Kim/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool
Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. Youngrae Kim/Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool

The Rundown: Lightfoot weighs suing gun manufacturers

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Hey there! It’s Friday! And I’ve got to book it because I’m seeing my nephews tonight in the burbs. They are very young, and I’m trying to sell them on the X-Men animated series from the ’90s. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Lightfoot considers suing gun manufacturers, calling 2022 the year of ‘accountability’ on violent crime

Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she is being encouraged to “sue the hell out of” gun manufacturers, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. And she “hinted strongly she plans to oblige, though the odds are long and the legal paths narrow.”

“I don’t want to tip my hand here. [But] we are looking at every possibility to make sure these manufacturers understand the magnitude of the damage that is being done in cities like Chicago,” Lightfoot said before the newspaper’s editorial board. [Sun-Times]

A federal law gives gun-makers broad protections against lawsuits. But the families of nine Sandy Hook victims showed there are possible ways to get around that law.

The families argued, in a lawsuit, that the maker of the AR-15-style rifle used in the massacre had marketed the weapon in a way that violated Connecticut consumer law. The suit was settled last month for $73 million. [New York Times]

As that legal fight played out, some states began proposing legislation aimed at circumventing federal protections. Like in New York, where a bill was signed into law last year that allows civil suits against gun-makers and dealers. The constitutionality of the law is now being challenged. [Reuters]

In Illinois, a similar bill was proposed in September by state Rep. Margaret Croke, a Chicago Democrat. [Sun-Times]

2. The justice system failed Jussie Smollett, writes Kim Foxx in an op-ed

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is defending how she handled the case against actor Jussie Smollett, who was sentenced yesterday to five months in jail for staging his own hate crime.

In an op-ed published in the Chicago Sun-Times, Foxx argues the case against Smollett, who had never been accused of a violent crime, was not worth prosecuting in a city overwhelmed with gun violence.

“Instead, taxpayers have since spent millions of dollars for the criminal prosecution of a hoax,” Foxx writes. “Last year alone there were over 800 murders in Chicago. My administration has vacated over 177 wrongful convictions, 87 of those in the last 3 years. Rather than working collaboratively to stem rising crime or free the wrongly convicted, a small group of people hijacked the judicial system to enact what is best described as mob justice.” [Sun-Times]

3. Biden and allies move to suspend normal trade with Russia

President Joe Biden today announced new economic measures aimed at punishing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Biden is urging Congress to strip Russia of normal trade relations, joining NATO, the EU and the G-7 in a coordinated effort to further isolate Moscow.

Biden also said he will sign an executive order today that bans certain Russian imports, such as vodka, seafood and diamonds. He also aims to block U.S. exports of watches, luxury vehicles, high-end clothing, alcohol and jewelry and other luxury goods to Russia.

In Ukraine, a massive Russian convoy of military vehicles that has been stalled outside of Kyiv for days appears to be moving again.

Russian forces have widened their bombardment of Ukraine, shelling the western part of the country in a move that may suggest Moscow is pursuing a new strategy.

In the U.S., Republicans are criticizing Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R- N.C., for calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a “thug” and the Ukrainian government “incredibly evil.” [NPR]

4. Businesses criticize Texas for classifying gender-affirming care for trans youth as “child abuse”

More than 60 major businesses are behind an ad campaign targeting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s unprecedented order to treat the medical care of trans youth as “child abuse,” forcing teachers and doctors to report parents who are helping their kids receive such gender-affirming treatments.

The companies include Apple, Google, Ikea, Johnson & Johnson and Meta. Their message: “Discrimination is bad for business.”

“People are really scared,” said Jay Brown with the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group. “I know families who have had to move hundreds of miles from their homes because their lawyers are telling them it’s not safe in the country they live in, in Texas. The lawmakers who do this, they’re making a short-term wager with their extremist base that they’re going to score a couple points at the risk of people’s lives.” [New York Times]

5. Goose Island channels Willy Wonka with treasure hunt

Goose Island Beer Company this evening will add gold-colored stickers to posters hung up throughout Chicago as part of a scavenger hunt, reports Block Club Chicago.

The stickers can be peeled off the posters, and folks can trade them in at Goose Island’s Fulton Street Taproom, 1800 W. Fulton St., to see if they won a prize, such as one of 50 company-branded road bikes or a 14-karat solid gold bar.

The scavenger hunt is part of the beer company’s “totally real, made-up,” 312-day holiday, which includes performances by Local H and Yo La Tengo. [Block Club Chicago]

Here’s what else is happening

  • The relatives of Emmett Till are calling for a renewed investigation into the 1955 lynching. [AP]
  • Companies tied to imprisoned Gangster Disciples kingpin Larry Hoover and his family are under federal scrutiny. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Activists say Chicago officials need to do more to keep bicyclists from being killed as they ride to and from the Lakefront Trail. [Block Club Chicago]
  • A man convicted of a hate crime is running against Cook County’s first openly gay commissioner. [Chicago Tribune]

Oh, and one more thing …

One movie I hope to watch with my nephews this weekend is Pixar’s Turning Red, which follows 13-year-old Meilin, who discovers she turns into a giant red panda whenever she gets excited. (Hat tip to reader Anabel, who reminded me the movie is out on Disney+ today.)

And Turning Red is getting great reviews.

The movie “knows that teenage life can sometimes feel like a monster movie and sometimes it’s an action movie — and now, happily, it’s a Pixar movie, and one of the bolder ones to come along in a while,” writes Fresh Air film critic Justin Chang. [NPR]

Turning Red itself is also generating news: It’s the first Pixar movie with an all-female leadership team. [Hollywood Reporter]

Tell me something good …

What is the funniest or most embarrassing thing to happen to you at work?

Janette write:

“I was at the office alphabetizing some paperwork in a file cabinet, and I had to go back and forth between the top, middle and bottom drawers until at some point all of them were open at the same time, which caused the whole file cabinet to tip over forwards and land on my foot.

“My coworker helped me lift the file cabinet off my foot and we had a good laugh about it, but from then on in the office I was known as ‘File Foot.’ ”

Thanks for all the responses this week! I’m sorry I couldn’t include them all, but it was nice hearing from y’all!