One of the most important and provocative documentaries of our time

See our latest trailer here

SHOWDOWN - The Lawyer, the Gun, and the Money is the story of an unprecedented legal victory by a paralyzed teenager's attorney over a corrupt gun manufacturer. It shows the behind-the-scenes efforts that attracted worldwide media attention, and reveals how a lone attorney's logic, research, and common sense persuaded a unanimous jury to see through the illusion of guns as something constitutionally sacred and infallible. The courtroom drama provides a foundation from which people in support of more gun-industry regulation -- which is the majority of the U.S. population -- can overcome extremist, fear-evoking, anti-gun-control rhetoric.

In documenting the strategies that resulted in a historic $50,000,000 product liability judgment, the film points the way toward how to change our perceptions about what a gun actually 'is', and how to regulate a gun industry that has successfully shielded itself from government oversight at the expense of public safety.

Brandon Maxfield was seven when he was accidentally shot and paralyzed. Ten years later, even though he was unable to move on his own, had no money, and wasn't old enough to vote, he took down one of the largest U.S. manufacturers of poorly made, dangerous handguns. His attorney, Richard Ruggieri, puts Brandon's accomplishment front and center when he says, "Look at what this kid did; if the smallest victim can do this, we can do something about the current state of things in this country." Ruggieri's legal fight reveals how he methodically tore through misconceptions about guns and shifted a jury's commonly held views to a more fundamental, logical perspective of a gun as a dangerous product. Interviews with the story's principals, gun experts, and politicians also examine a constitutional balance that has so far been ignored: one person's constitutional right can't impede another person's right. The right to carry a gun must not impede the right of society to be safe from a gun. Richard and Brandon's story shows that change can and does happen.

The roots of this story include a family tragedy; an attorney who triumphed despite every deceptive, fraudulent impediment placed before him by a corrupt manufacturer with a record of poorly designed guns, fraudulent business practices and money laundering; and a glimpse of America's continuing, divisive response to guns and responsibility. The story culminates at a bankruptcy auction unlike anything in modern legal history, riveting enough to be followed and featured by news and media outlets in nine countries.

Check here for updates on our funding efforts and pre-production. We're working hard to bring our film to audiences everywhere by August 12, 2014, the tenth anniversary of the bankruptcy auction.

Producers Mike Harkins and Barry Schienberg

Links to additional information and background:

Seven Years Later -- an essay on an extraordinary event with lasting implicationsMike Harkins' essay on the events featured in the documentary has been accessed by almost 26,000 readers.

L.A. Times - Brandon Maxfield 2013Brandon Maxfield is highlighted in the Los Angeles Times, March 2013.

NY Times article about the 2004 bankruptcyArchived NY Times article explaining the bankruptcy.

© Michael W. Harkins
Story and Pictures