The City of Buffalo, NY has filed a lawsuit against gun makers, alleging they are responsible for “gun violence” contending that “All of the Defendants manufacture, import, sell, market, and/or distribute firearms that have been possessed and/or used illegally in the City of Buffalo.”
The lawsuit was filed in New York Supreme Court in Erie County.
According to Fox News, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown told reporters, “Members of our community have suffered too much and for too long from gun violence. We must do everything we can to decrease gun violence. Enabling the possession of illegal guns destroys lives and deeply effects our neighborhoods, especially in Black and Brown communities.”
In response, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) issued a statement in which it observed, “The accusations are without any legal merit and are an obvious attempt by city officials to deflect attention and shift responsibility for their failure to enforce the law against criminals by casting blame on a Constitutionally-protected and most highly-regulated industry in the nation today.”
The firearms industry was attacked with what eventually became known as “junk lawsuits” some 20 years ago, leading to passage by Congress of the bipartisan Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act during the George W. Bush administration.
“The junk lawsuit by the City of Buffalo attempts to deflect attention for illegal activities by criminals by laying blame at the feet of the firearm industry, which is following the law,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “This is no different from the frivolous and unsuccessful lawsuits filed against firearm manufacturers in the late 1990s and early 2000s by crime-ridden big-city mayors across the country. Those lawsuits failed because they were legally and factually baseless. But they did, however, result in Congress passing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2005 by a broad bipartisan margin.”
According to Fox, Buffalo Corporation counsel Cavette Chambers asserted, “The City of Buffalo is not going to let these gun industry members continue to flood our City with illegally possessed guns. We must hold them accountable. We have been following the public nuisance law in New York and will be considering additional defendants and causes of action as we get into discovery.”
The lawsuit, which names several firearms manufacturers including Beretta, Smith & Wesson, Sig Sauer, Sturm, Ruger, Taurus and Mossberg, contends these and other industry members should be held responsible for crimes committed by people using their products.
“Because some guns used in a crime start off as legal firearms,” the lawsuit states, “it is evident that guns manufactured by Defendant Firearm Manufacturers and distributed by Defendant Firearm Distributors are diverted into an illegal gun market which caters to juveniles, criminals and other persons who are prohibited from owning guns.”
The argument appears to be that gun makers are somehow liable if their products are illegally diverted into the criminal market.
“In addition,” the city further contends, “Ghost Gun Defendants sell to consumers who otherwise could not legally purchase firearms from a licensed retailer. Worse yet, ghost guns are sold online without the background checks legally mandated for all gun sales in New York, making them still more attractive to an illicit market comprised of felons, domestic abusers, children — anyone barred by law from acquiring guns.”
The NSSF, which is the umbrella organization for the firearms industry, fired right back.
“The recently passed New York public nuisance law, upon which Buffalo’s lawsuit is based, is a transparent and unconstitutional attempt to defy the will of Congress,” NSSF said. “A lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of the New York public nuisance law is now before a federal appellate court in Manhattan.
“New York’s ‘public nuisance’ law would subject members of the firearm industry to civil lawsuits for the criminal misuse or unlawful possession of firearms in New York that were lawfully sold after a criminal background check, that the industry supports. This was the same failed tactic ushered in by New York’s disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo when he served as Housing and Urban Development Secretary in the Clinton administration and attempted to use these lawsuits to impose on the firearm industry a ‘death by a thousand cuts.’ The public nuisance law was signed by the former governor shortly before he was driven from office.”