The National Shooting Sports Foundation, along with several gun companies, distributors and retailers, has filed a federal lawsuit challenging a New York law “designed to blame the industry for the criminal misuse or unlawful possession of firearms in New York no matter where they were purchased,” according to an NSSF news release.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James, who sued the National Rifle Association in 2020 seeking to dissolve that organization, immediately responded with this statement: “Once again, the gun lobby is trying to exert total control over this country and thwart common-sense efforts to protect lives. Make no mistake: We will aggressively defend this law and won’t back down against their continued attempts to endanger New Yorkers.”
In her press release, James asserted, “In 2005, Congress took unprecedented action to usurp states’ rights and give gun manufacturers and distributors blanket immunity for gun violence perpetrated as a direct result of their marketing and distribution of firearms.” She is talking about the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). Anti-gunners dislike the law because it prevents junk lawsuits designed primarily to cost gun companies small fortunes spent on attorneys to fight the lawsuits, which time and again in the early 2000’s, were dismissed by the courts.
As many people have observed, remove guns from the scenario and replace with some other product, such as an automobile. If a drunk driver crashes into another vehicle and kills someone, should the car manufacturer and the auto dealer be held responsible, or the person at the wheel?
NSSF and its lawsuit partners made precisely that point in their announcement. The lawsuit may be read here.
“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,” NSSF explains. “The law would impose liability on industry members for firearms lawfully sold anywhere in the United States that end up being criminally misused or illegally possessed in New York thereby allegedly contributing to a ‘public nuisance’ in the state.
“Today’s lawsuit challenges the New York law as preempted by the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA),” the statement continues. “It also challenges the law as unconstitutionally vague in violation of the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. The lawsuit further challenges the law as an impermissible attempt by New York State to regulate interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.”
“This law is not about making our communities safer but rather, as former Governor Andrew Cuomo once proclaimed, to impose on the firearm industry a ‘death by a thousand cuts.’ Today’s lawsuit will end this unconstitutional attack on the businesses, large and small, vital to Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President for Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel.