A judge dismissed gun makers as defendants in a lawsuit filed by 12 California cities but ruled the case can continue against several gun dealers.

Superior Court Judge Vincent DiFiglia did not issue a written opinion in ruling Friday in favor of 29 weapons makers and three trade associations.

The remaining claims against three wholesalers and two retailers could go to trial in late April, he said.

The suit accused the defendants of creating a public nuisance by distributing weapons in a way that makes them accessible to criminals through illegitimate markets.

The gun makers had argued that they were too far removed from the point of sale to be held responsible.

"This is a definitive victory for us," said Lawrence G. Keane, general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry trade association.

The suit was filed by Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento and other municipalities, along with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Jonathan Lowy, a lawyer for the Brady Center, said he expects the cities will appeal.

The suit, filed in 1999, is one of more than a dozen such actions filed against the gun industry nationwide in the past few years. Several, including suits in Atlanta and New Orleans, were dismissed because of state laws granting immunity to the gun industry.

Suits by Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Newark, N.J., are continuing, but none has reached the trial stage.